Video: A Butterfly Effect at the North Korean Border

Watch a South Korean violinist’s attempt to stage a peace concert at the 38th Parallel Demilitarized Zone in this documentary on The Atlantic

“Is this ridiculous, what I’m trying to do?” says South Korean violinist Hyungjoon Won in the short documentary 9at38. Catherine Lee’s film, premiering on The Atlantic today, follows Won as he attempts to stage a peace concert at the 38th Parallel Demilitarized Zone to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s independence. “I’ve made an official pitch to the South and North Korean governments for a choir from the North and orchestra from the South to play Beethoven’s 9th,” explains Won in the film. “The lyrics mention a mysterious force that unites what’s divided, making us brothers.”

Won, a Juilliard-trained musician, makes many personal sacrifices in pursuit of the concert. So, too, did Lee. Frequently during the two-year process of filming, the humanitarian aid worker-turned-documentarian questioned the potential impact of the musical performance. “When I would run out of funds or when I would be pulling consecutive all-nighters, I would ask myself, why am I making this movie at such cost?” Lee told The Atlantic. “After all, people have been telling [Won] for years that one song isn’t going to change anything.”

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