A few days ago, I wrote about Fin K.L. as March’s Timeless Thoughts linkup post. Here I am again writing about these ladies and just K-Pop history in general. I love history as a subject, so sue me.
Now that we’re at it, I want to share this video I found out of random on YouTube earlier today. It’s Fin K.L. performing one of their hit singles, To My Prince. But I want you to take note on the setting and performance by itself, not just the girls or the song they sang.
This was back in 1999. Noticed something different from this performance from the other To My Prince live performance video that I posted in my TT post?
- There’s no special lighting effects unlike the ones we normally see in K-Pop live performances in general.
- No backup dancers.
- The girls are wearing the exact same thing (long black dress). In fact, all four of them look almost identical to each other if you look at them from afar. No fancy hairdos, save a few highlights.
- No noise or cheering coming from the audience during their performance. Theres no “Sarang haeyo Fin K.L.!” or “Lee Hyori! Ock Joohyun! Lee Jin-ah! Sung Yuri!” during the rests in between.
- The audience applauded when they entered and ended the performance, but that was it. No screams or cheers along with the applause.
As a K-Pop fan, or just a “pop” music fan in general, you’d be wondering, what kind of concert is this? Did they not wow the audience with their performance?
The more appropriate question is, where exactly are they?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, here are two clues: They’re not in Seoul, obviously. Second, they are at the last place for any Korean, let alone K-Pop idols and artists, would want to be ever.
If you haven’t guessed yet, they’re just up north. Not just north of Seoul, but up north. Way up north, right past the DMZ. If you haven’t guessed based on the previous clues, then you need to learn your geography.
In 1999, the two Koreas have gone through their processes of bringing peace to each other (and the possibility of reuniting into one country again) by having a joint concert consisting of their best performers in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea. On their first joint concert, South Korea presented Fin K.L. and their DSP Media oppas, Sechs Kies, to the uber-stiff and conservative North Korean audience, and because they are very stiff and conservative, everything else has to be conservative. The girls chose a love ballad, and Sechs Kies chose Yaegam, a slow and catchy song. The two groups also went on the “safer” performance to show respect to their northern neighbors with the all-black conservative-ish attire and songs that are purely safe for the North Korean public. They chose those songs, not because of the respect portion, but also because, they are also under scrutiny by the North Korean government also.
Ock Joohyun, Fin K.L.’s powerhouse voice, recalled the memory and performance in a Korean show Come to Play. She stated that upon arrival, the North Korean authorities confiscated their passports, and that if any type of speech error or anything they say that may seem controversial, they will be held captive. Wow, talk about “trying to bring peace to each other’s countries”…
Here’s Sechs Kies’ performance in that very same stage.
The 1999 concert was as success, even though the setting seemed dull to anybody who isn’t North Korean. They had another one in 2003, with Baby VOX and Shinhwa taking the stage. This time, the stage is a lot more improved, with the stage effects, more lighting, more color (my goodness!), and a bit more exciting. The reactions from the public, however, really makes you want to cringe in fear. Westernized South Koreans performing in front of a rather traditionally conservative North Korean audience…
Baby VOX doing their performance:
… and Shinhwa’s performance:
After all that, well… I haven’t found/heard any other joint concerts ever since. I guess their peace process would still take many more years before that is accomplished. If they do have another joint concert,1 K-Pop fans, which artists would you want to be sent to perform in Pyongyang?
On the sidenote...
- if they’re ever going to have another joint concert again… [↩]