Jonathan Fryer

War, Peace and the Little Angels of Korea

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 3rd October, 2010

The Korean War broke out just three weeks after I was born, so I have absolutely no recollection of it. But after North Korean troops crossed the demilitarised line in June 1950 into the South, and newly-Communist China then piled in, the United Nations sent its first ever international intervention force. The United States was in the lead (plus ca change) and sent the biggest force, but Britain despatched the second largest contingent. Fourteen other countries, including Thailand and the Philippines, participated. All 16 countries concerned are being visited this year during a World Peace Tour by a cultural troupe established many years ago by the Unification Church, called the Little Angels of Korea, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities. I was at the London premiere at Sadler’s Wells last night, along with a cross section of diplomats, peace activists and most importantly a respectable number of Korean War veterans, in whose honour the tour is being staged. The show was preceded by some shocking black-and-white film footage not just of the fighting, but of the civilian casualties, the orphans and the refugees that fled the North Koreans’ approach. South Korea was literally devastated and it is a miracle that it has risen phoenix-like from the ashes since. Though I was a little anxious that the performance of child dancers at the commemorative event might be mawkish — particularly given the name of the troupe — in fact most of the works were essentially traditional-dance based, brilliantly executed and interspersed with lighter numbers, including one delightful sketch about a 12-year-old boy marrying a woman twice his age — something which apparently did happen in the past.

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