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The memorial concert of General Baek Sun-yup celebrating the anniversary of the U.S.-ROK alliance.

The performance team that participated in the Baek Sun-yeop General Memorial Concert, including the Water Parsley Chorus, came on stage together to sing the finale. Photo/Bexus Media.

Baek Sun-yeop, the first general of the Republic of Korea and a war hero who passed away on July 10, 2020, became a star in the sky. This year marks the third anniversary of his death, and a memorial concert was held in his honor. On March 23 at 7:30 p.m., a large crowd gathered at the Vedani Hall of Yeongnak Church in Jung-gu, Seoul. The concert was held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean-American Alliance, and to promote the heroism of General Baek Sun-yeop, who led the victory in the Korean War in which 64 countries participated. Before the performance began, the audience filled the 1500-seat auditorium as they gathered one by one. It was reported that this was the first time that every seat in the Vedani Hall had been filled.

A view of the seats filling up Bethany Hall at Young Rock Church. Photo/Bexus Media

According to the Baek Sun-yup Memorial Project that organized the concert, this memorial concert consisted of narrative videos and musical performances. It was organized according to the theme of General Paik's footsteps, combining narrative videos and musical performances. The idea is to recognize and inspire the achievements of General Baek.

The performance was organized into five themes as follows.

Theme 1 (Hero): The hero who saved the country from the Dabudong conspiracy

Theme 2 (Alliance): The protagonist who helped launch the US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty

Theme 3 (Visionaries): Visionaries who led the revival of Korea (such as rescuing Major Park Chung-hee)

Theme 4 (Vanguard): Vanguard of the Korean ROTC system to build a strong military

Theme 5 (Faith): Commanders of good leadership and faith.

Translated with (free version)

A conductor Seok Sung-hwan and the Solideo Men's Choir. Photo/Bexus Media

Led by the Solideo Choir, the concert was composed of a diverse cast of meaningful and unusual performers, including mezzo-soprano Professor Nam-ok Paik, the niece of General Paik, the Korean Wheelchair Choir, the Mulmangcho Choir made up of North Korean women, and an active duty Korean-American chaplain from the U.S. Forces Korea. In addition, the song "Become a Star in the Sky" (lyrics by Han Kyu-sung, music by Lim Gyung-soo), which was also the subtitle of the concert, was dedicated as "General Baek Sun-yeop's Song." The program began with a prayer and the singing of the national anthem.

The two-minute video of five themes captures the major achievements of General Paik. The audience was captivated from the beginning to the end. The first video is the relatively well-known Battle of Dabudong. Everyone watched the battle scene with bated breath as Baek led the troops on a charge. "Men, follow me and attack. If I retreat, shoot me first!" A desperate moment when 8,000 peasant-level troops had to stop 27,000 North Korean soldiers. General Baek Seon-yeop drew his pistol from his waistband and began charging toward the high ground. In the end, the battalion retook the high ground in a matter of hours, destroying 14 North Korean tanks in the process. This is the famous anecdote of General Baek Sun-yup who saved the Republic of Korea from candle in the wind during the Korean War on the Nakdong River. It is also the last general's charge in the history of the Korean War.

A beautiful memorial performance continued after the video. After decorating the stage with "Those Who Believe Are Like Soldiers" by the Solideo Male Choir, Ms. Baek Nam-ok, the great-niece of General Baek Seon-yeop (daughter of General Baek In-yeop), who came out in a hanbok, continued with a solo performance of "Behold & The Lord Is My Shepherd". Audience gasped from the announcement that soprano Baek Nam-ok is the great-niece of General Baek Sun-yeop.

The second video focuses on Rhee, the man who paved the way for the current U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty. In 1953, the U.S. invited General Baek to the Baekan Hall to discuss an armistice because he wanted a cease-fire, unlike President Syngman Rhee who was strongly advocating for the reunification of North Korea. General Paik met with his old friend in the U.S., the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet's 5th Cruiser, Arleigh Burke who told, "If we don't sign a mutual defense treaty now, there will be another war after the U.S. troops withdraw, so be sure to sign a mutual defense treaty this time!" General Paik paused his return trip to meet with President Eisenhower and urged him to sign a mutual defense treaty with the U.S. However, President Eisenhower rejected the idea so firmly that a mutual defense treaty should have something to give and take, yet Korea has nothing to give to the United States. However, after the persistent persuasion by General Baek Sun-yup, a mutual defense treaty was eventually signed by President Syngman Rhee. This hard-won treaty was the foundation of the U.S.-ROK alliance that continues to this day.

When the U.S. national anthem was played, all the audience stood up and sang along as if they had made a promise - solemn as if the national anthem had been sung - followed by "I Love the Lord" sung by Cross Choir of the Sixth Order of the Incarnate Word where Four voices filled the theater.

The third video shows the rarely-known story of General Paik's rescue of President Park Chung-hee. In 1949, Park was sentenced to death for his role in the Namro Party military campaign. However, unlike most condemned prisoners, he pleaded with General Baek Sun-yup who decided to save his life. After being saved by Baek, Park received decisive help from Baek once again. In 1959, when Park was about to be promoted to major general because of his leftist activities, General Baek vouched for his patriotism and character and promote him. Afterwards, when Park became president, he proposed an economic development plan focused on the heavy chemical industry. He was also the one who introduced Subway Line 1 in 1974. General Paik was a behind-the-scenes player in the development of South Korea.

At the end of the third theme video, soprano Lim Chung-hwa came on stage in a dress of a flag pattern. Shortly after, 'National Anthem of the New Era' rang out. Her voice was so powerful and magnificent, just like her dress. At the end of the performance, the audience erupted in applause. While the wheelchair choir members were preparing for their next performance, ROTC Central President Han Jin-woo and former Minister of Defense and Minister of Security Kwon Young-hae gave greetings. Minister Kwon Young-hae said, "I sincerely thank you for your patriotism and faith in the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK alliance and the memorial concert for General Paik Sun-yup."

Former Defense Minister Kwon Young-hae. Photo/Bexus Media

"Approximately 3 million soldiers and civilians died during the Korean war. North Korea that invaded South Korea is full of people who have received the title of hero, but why is it that those who deserve to be hailed as heroes in our country are not only not hailed as heroes, but are even compared to North Korea? Three years ago, when Captain Baek Sun-yup passed away, there was a person who interrupted the ceremony and said that the Dongjak Hyeonchungwon and Daejeon Hyeonchungwon were not allowed. This is not the way we should honor him and those who sacrificed for this country like him. I think we should take a moment to reflect through this memorial concert. If we don't bring out, honor, and respect our heroes, do we evem deserve to memorialize them? Thus, there is a saying that the people make the heroes, and the heroes that are made protect the country. Now that we are commemorating Captain Baek Sun-yup who has become a star in the sky, does a star shine alone? A star does not shine alone, but many stars shine as one."

After a greeting from former Minister Kwon Young-hae, a chorus by members of the Korean Wheelchair Choir - followed by a clarinet performance by Son Ho-yong, and a performance of 'You raise me up' by the Yonsei Elders' Praise Group - the third theme ended.

The fourth video is called Vanguard. It tells the story of General Baek Sun-yup who introduced the ROTC program in the United States. General Baek's creation of the ROTC was a cornerstone of South Korea during a very difficult and chaotic time for the country, security-wise, politically, and economically. In 1963, the first ROTC class of 2,643 students from 16 universities were commissioned as the country's first Army major. After graduating from college, they served in the front lines of national security as loyal soldiers of the Republic of Korea. In the Vietnam War, they also achieved the outstanding results and led the industrialization of Korea after leaving the army. Over the past 60 years, Korea has become one of the world's top 10 economies and the world's fifth-largest military power.

The Mulmangcho Choir made up of North Korean women then came on stage and sang "My Country, My Country." "Don't forget me" is the meaning of the flower. The Mulmangcho Choir's performance moved the audience so much that they requested an encore. The duo of tenor Kim Dong-cheong and tenor Kim Jung-kyu sang "I will live in Cheongsan" and the Solideo Women's Choir sang "Lord, Hear Me."

The theme of the last video is faith. General Baek Sun-yup was a man who always prayed to and accompanied the Lord. Dream Ocarina Ensemble performed using instruments only. Although the sound of the instrument is unique because of its unfamiliarity, the song played is the hymn that most churchgoes know, "Lilies of the Valley." It brought to the performance by Solideo Presbyterian Choir singing "Be a Star in the Sky" (written by Han Kyu-sung and composed by Lim Gyung-soo), and "Be Strong and Bold," the subtitle of the concert. The meaning of 'solideo' here is 'only the Lord.' David who defeated Goliath is a man of faith chosen by God - the suitable meaning for the concert to commemorate General Baek Sun-yup who walked the path of faith. The concert concluded with the entire cast and congregation singing 'To the Land of Hope' together.

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