SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Korea Bizwire) – “The original version is the best one.”
After listening to three different versions of the Girls’ Generation hit song “Gee” – in addition to the original recording, two covers by a rock band and an indie artist – the North Korean soldier at Ajou University Hospital told his doctors of his musical preference, proving that there are no borders when it comes to catchy tunes by Korean celebrity royalty.
The 24-year-old also took a liking to American TV series “CSI” and the film “The Transporter”, even spontaneously sharing with his doctor that he was also a driver after a scene of lead Jason Statham racing in a car appeared on the screen.
During the Q&A segment of his press briefing on November 22, Dr. Lee Kook-jong painted a picture of a young man who was both different yet similar to South Korean men his age.
Pointing out that the staff had played the music as a fun and lighthearted way of waking up the soldier, who is still on the road to recovery, Lee mentioned that the response was a positive one. “He really likes girl groups,” Lee said.
Described as a look-alike of actor Hyun-bin, the soldier had served in the North Korean military since he was 18 years old. Lee said, “Compared to South Korean young men around his age, the texture of his skin was a bit different. When I shook his hand it felt rock solid like a scrubbing board, a hand that would belong to a UDT service member [Navy special forces].”The soldier’s strapping bearing likely played a big part in bringing him back from death’s door. Praised by Lee as “recovering faster than the typical patient”, the young man began to improve starting on November 21.
Though the soldier’s successful defection may be a source of displeasure up North, the news was music to the ears of Tae Yong-ho, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to the U.K. who defected with his family to the South last year.
Tae said he was overjoyed to hear of his compatriot’s recovery and empathized with him. According to Tae, the real reason for the soldier’s enjoyment of K-Pop is to constantly reassure himself that he is truly in safe and in South Korea at last.
Tae had previously pointed to the importance of “soft power” in dealing with the North Korean threat. During a visit to the United States earlier this month, he had said, “Instead of military action, Korean dramas [and other cultural content] can be more effective in changing North Korea.”
An amusing tidbit from the press briefing may further illuminate the similarities between North Korean and South Korean men. During one of their exchanges, the soldier mentioned that he was tired of serving in the military, a sentiment assuredly shared by countless young men on this side of the border.
The response he got was perhaps his first real “Welcome to South Korea” moment.
“I suggested to him that he start studying,” Lee said.