210. Interview of Rev. Chun Kiwon by Kang Jeongeun and Lee Naeun
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  Name : HAFS Date : 2017-07-06 오후 6:50:25

Wogle Wogle (Hullabaloo) Choir

The majority of students at Durihana International School have experienced unimaginable trauma for their age. Although the choir members appear a little awkward and clumsy, they sing in unity of their hopes. Indeed, Wogle Wogle (Hullabaloo) choir has come a long way. We travelled a long way to visit Rev. Chun Kiwon who initially formed the choir.

Rev. Chun, who we met first, was very kind and pleasant. When we began asking questions, he answered our questions very specifically and in a friendly manner. First, when we aksed about the reason why he established the Wogle Wogle choir, he said that he wanted to cure the trauma of adolescent defectors from North Korea. After watching the TV show named “Song For You” which tells the story of a choir composed of problem children, the Pastor was greatly inspired by the program. Korean singer Lee Seungchul and Uhm Jungwha taught the students how to cooperate each other and sing in harmony. They finally went to Europe to sing in international choir competitions. Later he watched the program again with the choir members.

After watching it, they also became motivated by 8it and participated in choir more actively. Since North Korean defectors have lived harsh lives, they didn’t have much time to look after others. Accordingly, they tend to be self-assertive and less caring for others. Thus, the Pastor sought to unify them and hopefully heal them through the music.

Gathering North Korean defectors together to establish a choir entailed hardships. The defectors were divided into two groups, too lively and too rowdy whenever they met. When he supervised one group, the other group kept talking and playing around. Moreover, when he went to supervise the second group, the first one began to chat noisily. Therefore, he gave the choir the name “Wogle Wogle (Hullabaloo)”, which well-suited them. Hearing the anecdote, I realized that adolescent defectors from North Korea were just like us in South Korea. We enjoy chatting and playing around with friends.

The Wogle Wogle choir is composed of students from Durihana International School with ages ranging from eight to twenty years old. Beginning with the national choral contest sponsored by KBS, they began to participate in bigger competitions. They usually practiced afte school one or two weeks before the upcoming contests, assisted many times by a voluntary teacher. In the beginning, each student was busy with his or her studies, so there was little time to practice. However, as their choir progressed, students became self-motivated and began to practice voluntarily.

When asked about the songs the choir performs during contests, Rev. Chun answered that they usually choose hope-filled and optimistic songs. With a smile on his face, he said that they perform slow, lyrical songs in the beginning and end with fast, fun-filled songs in order to capture an audience’s attention. For example, they perform “You raise me up”, “Oh happy day,” and “Our hope is reunification,” on most occasions. They thought that the songs were suitable for them. The song lyrics are similar to their story. Rev. Chun believes that making a profound impression on the audience is most important part of singing. He always emphasizes the fact that students sing not just to win but to move the heart.

When I asked about the most impressive performance, he mentioned the performance for the ninth anniversary of The Chosun Ilbo was very meaningful for the choir. Since North Korean defectors don’t want to appear on the stage or introduce themselves, they are not used to standing in the public. Therefore, directing a choir composed of the North Korean defectors was a difficult task and no one hoped for much. This most impressive performance was not intended to win prizes. The celebration for The Chosun Ilbo was such a great event that thousands of celebrities, members of National Assmebly, and leaders in the film and musical world were attending. Despite this great audience pressure, students were calm and performed well. It was also quite a memorable performance because the former President’s speech had been canceled and was replaced by the performance of the choir on live television.

While there were some difficulties managing the choir, the initial problem was that students were reluctant to participate. Most of them did not understand the eventual goal of organizing this choir, and complained that practicing was a waste of time. However, after this chaotic initial period, Rev. Chun said that he won their confidence, cultivated their singing abilities, and led the choir to their success.

When we asked about future plans of the choir, he instantly answered that “there cannot be any plans for our choir.” He then told us the reasons for this. A considerable number of students transfer to other regular schools each year and new members join as they arrive into the school. Even though he has plans for the future, these plans must be changeable as there are so many unexpected variables to consider.

Rev. Chun said that he was focusing on teaching the phrase “Seize the day” to his students. According to him, students of Durihana International School are self-assertive: they need to learn cooperation and harmony. He proudly stated that they had learned the concept of cooperation and harmony by becoming a choir member. He loves to say to the students that the power of several average people is stronger than that of a single smart person. They do not want to win first place but, instead, seek to give an impression of courage to average people.

Adding to that, the pastor additionally told us a story of a student in Durihana International School, at first, without any dreams or hope, busy earning a living. However, after coming to Durihana International School, the first thing she learned was to set goals. Rev. Chun and other teachers in the school made their best efforts to lead the student to find her own goals and dreams. They taught her to plan the steps to reach each goal. They let the student review her plans for the last year and form and annual plan for each year based on the last year’s results. The result of this project was conspicuous: the very student who did not have any dreams and goals set her dream to become a lawyer and started to study hard to achieve that goal. After telling us this story, the pastor summarized the lesson from this anecdote that “involuntary studying has its limits, whereas voluntary one does not.”

The lessons he gave are included in the curriculum that he programmed for this choir members. Once joining the choir, the members are provided an opportunity to go on a two-week travel to several countries. They start in New York and travel to Los Angeles, visiting the cities throughout the United States, and then go to New Zealand. The reason he provides this valuable chance for his students was simple. According to him, as they have lived in a restricted land and learned prejudiced ideology, they need to see, experience, and learn diverse concepts throughout the world to expand the scope of their thoughts. With a benign smile, he told us that he wants his choir to learn the freedom and harmony of diverse perspectives and live a better life.

We were deeply moved by Rev. Chun’s words, as those words showed us his unconditional love towards his students and choir members. We were moved deeply by his humble sincerity.