Korean choir

The Korean Children’s Choir stepped on stage at Scott Memorial Middle School Monday to entertain students through song.

Dressed in bright costumes, the children danced and sang songs familiar to every American school child: “Oh, Susanna,” “Home on the Range,” and a medley of songs from “The Sound of Music.” As they do all over the world, they ended the performance with “God Bless America.”

When it was over, Scott middle-schoolers gave the Korean students a standing ovation.

“They enjoyed the traditional American patriotic tunes that the kids sang in English, even though the children do not know English,” Principal Robbie Patton said. “I received many positive comments from our students and teachers/staff.  It was an inspirational performance.  Our chorus students seemed to appreciate the performance the most, but everyone enjoyed the cultural experience.  It’s not often that we get a chance to experience foreign culture in person.”

At the end of the performance, Korean War veteran Bobby Griffin of Bristol, Va., told students his story about how a Korean houseboy nursed him back to health after he was shot during the war. After 21 years, Griffin finally located Ko Yong Jae on a trip to South Korea in 1974. He chronicled the story of his search for the houseboy in a book, “The Search.”

Griffin helped bring the choir to Scott. Later Monday, they performed at Bluefield College. On Friday, they will perform at the Paramount Theatre in Bristol, Tenn.

The Korean Children’s Choir is a ministry of the Far East Broadcasting Company in Seoul, South Korea. Choir members, ranging in age from 7 to 13, are selected through a rigorous audition process and receive continuous instruction from a voice trainer, choreographer and conductor.

The group performs a variety of concerts throughout the year at churches, cultural centers, theme parks, schools, and universities, both in Korea and the United States. Their performances feature colorful costumes and traditional Korean dance and pageantry.

 The Children’s Choir is under the direction of Dr. Billy Kim, an internationally known pastor, evangelist and broadcaster who serves as chair of the Far East Broadcasting Company. During the Korean War, an American soldier befriended Kim and paid for eight years of his education in the United States. Afterward, Kim returned to Korea in 1959 with his Michigan bride to begin his ministry.

He created a Korean radio ministry in 1956 to broadcast the gospel to North Korea, China, Russia and Mongolia, where missionaries could not go. From that single radio station, he helped build the Far East Broadcasting Company, a network of 11 Christian radio stations that minister in Korean, Chinese, English, Japanese and Russian.

The Korean Children’s Choir is an extension of that ministry. Each radio station sponsors a choir. The choirs perform in the United States, Canada and other countries, said spokesman Scott Gilstrap. He is the only member of the group who speaks English.

The group will perform at the Paramount Theatre in Bristol, Tenn., at 7 p.m. Friday. Their performances are free. Love offerings help support the ministry in Korea. Their tour ends May 6.

To contact Millie Rothrock, call 228-6611, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com


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