Lead singer of Boney M. to protest Beijing’s forcible repatriation of North Korean defectors
Just a year after the box office triumph of Korea’s retro flick “Sunny,” the legendary European disco band behind the movie’s title track made its second visit to Seoul ― this time for the serious cause of protecting the human rights of North Korean refugees.
Liz Mitchell, one of the original members and lead singer of Boney M. ― the German-based vocal group that dominated the 1970s disco era ― is in Seoul to hold concerts in support of the refugees, as well as to speak up about their human rights. Mitchell and her band’s last Korean tour took place back in 2007.
“When I was here five years ago, I was invited to be an ambassador for Korea by Incheon mayor Ahn Sang-soo,” Mitchell told reporters during a press conference in Seoul, Tuesday. “He was very sure that my voice would make a difference. I’m grateful that I can be here now and be at the forefront of being an ambassador who speaks up for justice. ”
Singer Liz Mitchell participates in a rally protesting Beijing’s forcible repatriation of North Korean defectors in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)
Mitchell’s concerts are taking place amid growing public criticism of Beijing for forcibly deporting North Korean defectors to their home country, where they face harsh punishment and possibly execution. A number of rallies and hunger strikes have been taking place in front of the Chinese Embassy since February, after it was revealed that about 30 North Korean refugees were caught by the Chinese authorities and were awaiting repatriation to the North.
“I just want to say that it is interesting how I happen to be here in Seoul now,” she said. “Because I did not plan on being here now ― I was supposed to be here in January. But because of my health and other situations we were not able to come. And we are now here, and now is the time that our presence is needed in support of the people at the moment. So I am grateful to God for bringing me here on this day so I can lend my voice and my support.”
On top of donating her concert earnings to a local human rights organization dedicated to supporting North Korean refugees, the singer is also scheduled to participate in on-going rallies calling for Beijing to stop the repatriations. Mitchell said she will meet with the protesters in front of the Chinese embassy on Wednesday and sing three gospel songs, including “My Life is In Your Hands,” in support of their cause.
“I will go tomorrow and I will stand with them,” said Mitchell. “I am of an African-Jamaican descent. And I am aware of the slave trade and 400 years of suffering. And it was the people who stood up for us to help us overcome our struggles. If you look at South Africa and President Nelson Mandela, it was people of the world who held their hands together and stood up to make a difference. So ‘people power’ is important.”
After the press conference, Mitchell made her way to the entrance of the Chinese Embassy to meet with the protesters ― who are currently on a hunger strike ― to send her message of support prior to her participation Wednesday.
Boney M. will hold a total of four concerts in four cities ― Seoul, Daegu, Busan and Daejeon ― during its stay in Korea. The tour kicks off with its Seoul show at Sejong Center on Saturday. For more information about the concerts, call (070) 4130-0877.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org