Today started really slowly, as I didn’t wake up until 1:30 in the afternoon. But soon after that, I made plans with my friend Ahva to go over to the pool at her apartment. Despite a persisting feeling of laziness, I got myself to get up and go. And I’m so glad I went, because I got to enjoy my first dip in a pool in DC, in a really nice pool on a rooftop. The weather was also perfect to jump in the water!
After that, my friend invited me to come to this concert that she and her friend had registered for a few weeks ago. Although attendees technically had to register/RSVP ahead of time, we decided to give it a shot anyway. So we got there, and to our relief, they were handing out extra tickets right before the show. All we had to do was wait (So even if you didn’t get to RSVP for an event ahead of time, just go! At least you’ll enjoy visiting the facility and maybe even meeting some people along the way).
So then we go inside (We’re at the Kennedy Center!), take some nice seats up front, and start reading through the program brochure: “Inside NK presents: Freedom-less North Korea, by The Ahn Trio.” Okay—so I’d done lots of work and research on North Korea last summer, also because of personal interests and passions, but partly because of my Korean-American Coalition internship. Thus naturally, seeing familiar words and themes, I was anticipating the event. Another reason for why I was so excited was that the set list seemed to feature a variety of styles of music, so I knew it wouldn’t be a slow classical concert.
Needless to say, the concert was amazing! Albeit there were some rather eerie-sounding, abstract parts/songs, overall, The Ahn Trio gave an amazing performance. My favorite was their tango piece Primavera Porteña, by Astor Piazzolla. You can say I was sitting at the edge of my seat from the beginning to end of that piece.
However, the BEST part of that night: meeting Shin Dong-Hyuk, the North Korean defector who was born in Camp 14, one of the most notorious political prison camps, and miraculously (literally) escaped the heavily secured and guarded slave camp. He is the subject of New York Time’s bestselling biography, Escape from Camp 14, written by Blaine Harden (former Washington Post journalist). I read the book last summer, and was utterly shocked by the details and attributes of the North Korean prison camp life.
During the initial introductions, speakers continuously mentioned Mr. Shin’s name as if he were present at the theater. So during intermission, I eyed the front rows—and found him!! I got to talk and take pictures with him, and get his signature (yes, his signature!). Here’s the picture I took with him! (Definitely not the most flattering picture of me, but just pay attention to Shin Dong-Hyuk! ^__^ )
Despite his history and horrible life experiences, Mr. Shin was very kind and polite. All in all, today was certainly an unforgettable day and experience. Hoping for more days like this, good-bye.
Note: There is a site called “linktank.com” which lists multiple events, including networking and free concerts, in the DC area. That is how my friend found the concert, and I was able to go. So make sure to check the site often, for you never know who you might meet 🙂