The Words of the Pak Family
Washington, DC, USA - Korea's Little Angels children's folk ballet will arrive in the United States for a month-long program to mark the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. In addition to performances in Washington DC, New York, Atlanta and Ottawa, the troupe will participate in memorial services in Norfolk and Arlington, VA and will visit several Veterans hospitals and facilities.
More information can be found at the Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Project
Event and Tour, Mark 60th Anniversary of Korean War Evening of "Breathtaking" Artistry Will Honor All U.S. Veterans
12,000 Free Theater Seats Reserved for Veterans and Service Members in 4 Cities; 11,000 Other Tickets for Sale at Reduced Rates.
In perhaps the leading effort this year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the celebrated Little Angels Children's Folk Ballet of Korea will travel the U.S. as part of a 16-nation global tour.
The troupe's purpose is to provide "breathtaking and heartwarming" performances that will honor and cheer the countries' veterans, express the deep gratitude the Korean people feel toward all Americans for preserving their freedom, and celebrate the enduring Korean-American friendship.
The tour will commence at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Va., on Monday, June 7 at 11:30 a.m. with a memorial service and wreath-laying at the tombs of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his wife Jean. To conclude the event, the Little Angels will present several songs.
It's appropriate that the tour begin at the MacArthur Memorial because Gen. MacArthur was the key operational figure behind the successful defense of South Korea's freedom after June 25, 1950, when the Korean War erupted.
The Little Angels' first performances will be at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House in Washington, DC, June 9-12, at 7:30 p.m. The Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Committee (KW60), the organization managing the tour, is inviting Korean War veterans, as well as veterans of other conflicts, and their families and survivors, and also active-duty military and their families to the June 9 and 10 performances free of charge. Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. (Tickets to the June 11-12 performances are being sold through the Kennedy Center at reduced rates.)
"America paid a huge price in blood and tears that the Korean people will never forget," said Dr. Bo Hi Pak, founding director of the Little Angels, which was founded in 1962 to promote traditional Korean culture and world peace. Pak, a retired Republic of Korea (ROK) diplomat and ROK Army lieutenant colonel, is himself a Korean War veteran who also received officer training in the U.S.
"We want to give U.S. veterans a breathtaking and heartwarming performance that will delight them, and at the same time astound them with the contrast between the ragged children they remember begging in the gutter in 1953 and those 'visions of perfection' they will see on stage today," said Pak, co-chairman and executive director of KW60.
On June 24, at 4 p.m., the Little Angels will participate in a wreath-laying at the Task Force Smith Memorial Tree (a cherry tree) in section 21 at Arlington National Cemetery. After laying the wreath, they will place flowers and South Korean and American flags on 1,000 nearby graves, where mostly Korean War veterans have their final resting place. The Little Angels will also conduct a wreath-laying and memorial service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 6:15 p.m. for those Korean War veterans buried in Arlington.
The Task Force Smith Memorial Tree is dedicated to the memory of the first United States Army contingent to engage North Korean invasion forces in combat in the vicinity of Osan, Korea, on July 5, 1950. Named for their commander, Col. Charles B. Smith, it was comprised of 375 infantrymen from the 1st Battalion 21st Infantry, 134 artillerymen from the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion, and 31 medical personnel from the medical company of the 21st Infantry Regiment. The efforts and selfless sacrifices of these soldiers are an example for all future generations.
On June 25, the 60th anniversary date of the start of the Korean War, the Little Angels will participate in a memorial service at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Mall at 11 a.m. The Little Angels tour includes all 16 nations that contributed troops to the United Nations-led Korean War effort. After the Kennedy Center performances, the Little Angels will perform in
New York City at the Manhattan Center
on June 15 and 16 (3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. both days);
Columbus (Fort Benning), Georgia, at the River Center Theater on June 27 at 2 p.m.; and
Atlanta at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on June 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Over the four cities, roughly half of all tickets will be free (for veterans and active-duty military) and half will be for sale at reduced prices, in honor of America's veterans.
Also commemorating the Korean War -- this time its conclusion on July 27, 1953 -- will be a ceremony, without the Little Angels, at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on July 27, sponsored by the Korean War Veterans Armistice Day Coordinating Committee.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak gave his enthusiastic support to the Little Angels' 16-nation tour, saying, "I highly praise and value their efforts" and "hope that the Little Angels performances will be welcomed and accepted by the people in the countries they visit."
The ballet troupe was founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon of Korea, who, in gratitude to the UN forces that saved his country and liberated him from a North Korean concentration camp, established the Little Angels. Composed mostly of girls aged 9 to 15, their professional level of dancing and singing has inspired audiences all over the world for the past five decades, thrusting them into the role of representatives of the Korean nation to the world and "Angels of Peace" and "Ambassadors of Good Will" to many nations. They have performed at the White House, the United Nations, Buckingham Palace in London, and the Kremlin in Russia.
"The Little Angels, Korea's national folk ballet, is a phenomenal company," wrote The New York Times, "which anyone interested in good dancing and other cultures should not [miss] … There are few other folk companies that could match the flawless adult professionalism of the Little Angels. Every detail in their performance, from eyebrow-raising to intricate footwork and some complex drum-beating, has been worked out to perfection…
"There was never a dull moment," the Times continued. "[And] there were many filled with the beauty and theatrical effect that permeated the program."
All South Koreans are gratefully aware of the sacrifice of the international community that protected freedom in their nation, which has become one of the most prosperous in the world, and a bastion of democracy in Asia. Thus, it's with a sense of a national outpouring of gratitude and friendship that the Little Angels, who have received awards three times from the Korean government for their international "ambassadorship," are being dispatched on this 16-nation tour. And they're coming on a wave of national pride in the 5,000-year-old rich culture of Korea, with its enthralling dance and thrilling music Testimonials from Public Figures
Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, general chairman of the Korean War 60th Anniversary Project Committee, which is coordinating the Little Angels tour, said of the dance troupe, "Their beauty, innocence, and professionalism have been experienced and acknowledged by millions. Now, they will perform for the Korean War veterans and their families, to express the Korean people's unforgettable thanks and gratitude for their sacrifice made by those who defended their peace and freedom. … The year 2010 will be one of our last chances to show our gratitude to the surviving Korean War veterans and to their families."
Wholehearted testimonials (www.kw60.com) supporting the tour have been offered by public figures as diverse as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), former President George H.W. Bush, and Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Pelosi, for example, said Korean War veterans' "service and courage will never be forgotten, especially with the efforts of the Little Angels. Their performances convey the gratitude and thanks we hold for our courageous Korean War veterans and their families."
And former President George H.W. Bush observed: "As proud Americans, let us open our hearts to the Little Angels Children's Folk Ballet of Korea as they come to thank and comfort our war veterans, both past and present."
In addition to the 16 nations that contributed troops to the UN-led 1950-53 war effort, there were 25 more that sent either medical units or other material support. The exceptionally bloody conflict, which killed about 1 million South Koreans and 2 million North Koreans, including civilians, ended with an armistice in July 1953 after 54,000 American soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice.
The 16 nations that provided troops to protect Korea's freedom were Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Korean War is remarkable in that it was the first war in which black and white Americans fought side by side in racially integrated units. In previous U.S. wars, blacks fought, but units were segregated. Additionally, the war was historic in the unprecedented collaboration of religions among the UN forces. The troops were comprised of Christians, Muslims (Turkey), and Buddhists (Thailand). Among the Christians were Protestants (Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada), Catholics (Colombia, France, the Philippines), and Orthodox (Greece, Ethiopia).
The desire of the Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Committee (KW60), the name of the organization sponsoring the Little Angels tour, is to present a special gift to America's Korean War veterans.
The Little Angels were started at a time when post-war life in South Korea was very poor. There were few resources available, and Pak and his associates had to scrape and sacrifice to make the vision of the dance troupe a reality. But as the years passed, the children worked hard and became a world-class group, eventually performing in major capitals.
"But our most important performances of all," said Pak, "are awaiting us on this upcoming tour, because they will be perhaps the final 'thank you' we can make to our precious Korean War veterans in the twilight years of their lives."