The Korea Times 칼럼

Barenboim vs. Oh Se-hoon (2011년 8월 27일)

divicom 2011. 8. 27. 08:36

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has failed to prevent overall offering of free meals to elementary and middle school students owing to Wednesday’s referendum, which was annulled for lack of voter participation.

However, I feel not happy but frustrated considering how severely Seoulites were divided over the wasteful political show that cost 18.2 billion won. Some even observed the referendum was contention between the Christians and non-Christians, noting Protestant mega-churches’ ardent support of Oh’s efforts.

One consoling thing about this unjustifiable affair is that Oh will leave City Hall after five years of hard-to-understand policies and measures that seemed to be focused perennially on “designing” the time-honored city. More than a few viewed the “designing” as synonymous to “destroying” the traditional beauty and function of the capital.

On Sunday, Oh publicly pledged to quit if the referendum didn’t turn out the way he wished. He campaigned for limited offering for the “poor students only,” while his opponents called for free meals for all for the sake of the youngsters’ emotional as well as physical well-being.

Frustration caused by a person can be dissipated best by another person and I am lucky to have just seen Maestro Daniel Barenboim, who steered a sweaty, open-air concert into a memorable event on Aug. 15 at Imjingak Pyeonghwa Nuri near the inter-Korean border.

The plastic mats the organizers handed out were too thin to block the wetness of the grass. on the rehearsal stage, the 100 members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra were struggling to produce a desirable sound despite the sultry weather. I couldn’t feel sorrier for the timpanist who seemed to be having a real hard time finding the right pitch.

When I was going to the “Peace Concert” at a friend’s invitation, I was half-hearted. The venue was quite far and the program featured Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 only, which I loved and yet had heard several times from the world’s best orchestras and vocalists.

When the music started, however, I couldn’t believe my ears. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s rendition of the symphony was one of the best I had ever heard live. The 130-strong chorus comprising the National Chorus, Goyang City Chorus and Seoul Motet Choir presented a great example of group singing. Last but not least, the thousands of audience members were a fine collection of civilized people I hadn’t seen often lately.

I could understand why Barenboim and Edward Said, the late Palestinian-American academic, chose music as the way of promoting peace. They founded the Divan in 1999 with young musicians mostly from the Middle East, a region continuously plagued by conflicts, including those between Israelis and Palestinians.

I could also understand why they named the orchestra after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s anthology of poems, a symbol of East-West harmony. I earnestly wished that the symphony would travel northward and touch the hearts of the people in the communist half of the Korean peninsula.

In a 2008 interview, Barenboim said that the Divan was conceived as “a project against ignorance. It is a project against the fact that it is absolutely essential for people to get to know the other, to understand what the other thinks and feels, without necessarily agreeing with it.” He said he was not trying to convert the Arab members of the Divan to the Israeli point of view or vice versa. He also said, “I am not interested in getting the orchestra to play the way I want it to play.

What I am interested in is to see how to get 100 people to think and feel alike, to get together and feel one huge common lung. That you breathe the music the same way. That's what is interesting.”

Wielding the baton while wiping his sweat, Barenboim succeeded in making numerous Koreans and others “feel one huge common lung” on that evening. It is unfortunate that we, South and North Korea, don’t have our own Divan whereas we need such an endeavor more than any other people in the world, being the only divided nation on the globe.

If Mayor Oh missed the concert because of the campaign, I recommend that he find its audio-visual version and watch and listen attentively. He may not be as inspired by Barenboim as me but he will be able to learn at least one important lesson: “Great minds unite and don’t divide people.”


오세훈 씨가 결국 서울 시장직에서 물러났습니다. 반대하지 말아야 할 무상급식을 반대하며 할 필요가 없는 주민투표를 하고, 연계시킬 필요가 없는데도 투표에 시장직을 연계시키더니 결국 그만두게 된 것입니다. 때로 사람들은 이해할 수 없는 일을 하여 자신을 그르치고 주변에 폐를 끼칩니다. 오 전 시장이 최근 보여준 일련의 행동이야말로 아주 좋은 예입니다. 무엇보다 실망스럽고 속상했던 건 그 투표가 초래한 서울시민의 분열입니다. 부자와 가난한 사람, 강남과 강북, 기독교인과 비기독교인...


무상급식 주민투표를 반대해온 제게 오세훈 씨의 사퇴는 반길 만한 일이지만 그다지 기쁘지 않습니다. 주민투표를 실시하느라 낭비된 182억 원과 그의 후임자를 뽑기 위해 치러야 하는 보궐선거 비용 200억 원 내지 300억 원을 생각하면 참 기가 막힙니다.


사람으로 인해 실망했을 때는 사람으로 위로받는 게 제일입니다. 저로선 지난 8월 15일 임진각 평화누리 평화콘서트에서 본 웨스트-이스턴 디반 오케스트라의 지휘자 다니엘 바렌보임을 생각하는 게 도움이 됩니다. 물이 묻어날 것처럼 축축하고 더운 잔디밭 야외무대에서 땀을 훔치며 지휘하던 그와, 그가 고 에드워드 사이드 교수와 함께 창설한 디반의 수준 높은 음악, 국립합창단, 고양시립합창단, 서울 모테트합창단이 함께 이루어낸 강력하고도 아름다운 하모니, 그리고 요즘 보기 드문 교양을 실천해 보여준 수천 명의 관중... 그날 저녁의 풍경을 돌이켜보면 작금의 한심한 사태를 지울 수 있습니다.  


세계 유일의 분단국인 한반도, 그 남북한을 아우르는 오케스트라가 있으면 한반도의 평화도 앞당길 수 있을 것 같습니다. 오세훈 씨가 무상급식을 반대하느라 그날의 공연을 놓쳤다면 녹화테이프라도 구해 보고 들었으면 좋겠습니다. 그 공연을 보며 저만큼 감동할지는 알 수 없지만 최소한 한 가지 교훈은 얻지 않을까 생각합니다. 그것은 '위대한 사람은 결코 사람들을 분열시키지 않고 단결시킨다'는 것이지요. 마지막으로 바렌보임 씨에게 미안합니다. 위 칼럼의 제목에 그의 이름과 오세훈 씨 이름을 동등하게 쓴 것이 미안합니다. 그분의 양해를 바랍니다.