Friday, 20 June 2014

Foreign Devils

A slightly less creepy version of the Mini-Pops, The Little Angels National Folk Ballet of Korea released just one 45 in the UK in November 1972, a cover of the recent Neil Reid Top Three hit Mother of Mine backed with I’m Getting Married in the Morning, the show-stopping tune from the musical My Fair Lady. A follow-up album, Little Angels, received a limited European and Asian release the following year.

Mother of Mine was an obvious choice for the pre-pubescent emotional blackmailers; a song guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings of a certain sector of the record buying public. Listening to their performance is akin to being beaten around the head by the Von Trapp Family Singers with sticks of candyfloss. However the supposed charm of a bunch of cute moppets singing I’m Getting Married in the Morning takes on a much more sinister tone when you realise that the choir was brought together by the notorious Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church (aka the Moonies), whose bizarre blessing ceremonies gained international attention for joining thousands of identically-dressed brides and grooms - many of whom met at the ceremony for the first time - in distinctly unholy matrimony. Ignore the dodgy pronunciation, I reckon that there were a few dissenters in the ranks. Listen carefully: I’m sure some of the kids are singing ‘Kim Jong’, rather than ‘ding-dong’.

Dance troupe and choral company the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea was founded in 1962 by the Rev. Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, as a way to project a positive image of South Korea. Still in existence today (the lineup changes, Menudo-like, whenever a member reaches her 16th birthday), the group’s dances are based on Korean legends and regional dances, and its costumes on traditional Korean styles.

“My plan was to have these 17 children learn how to dance and then send them out into the world. Many foreigners knew about Korea only as a poor country that had fought a terrible war,” said Reverend Moon in his less-than reliable memoir. “I wanted to show them the beautiful dances of Korea so that they would realise that the Korean people are a people of culture."

In 1973, shortly after they released their one and only British single, they performed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. They have appeared Stateside on many occasions, including in 1993 when, according to a contemporary review in The New York Times, the troupe featured ‘girls from seven to 15 years old...dressed in a wide variety of colourful costumes, some drawn from traditional Korean styles. They still glide, dip and spin in mini-spectacles, inspired by Korean legends and regional dances that often resemble gracious precision drills’. The group has expanded recently and, in an uncharacteristic nod to the modern world, has added a solitary young boy to its’ cast of 33 young girls.

In 2010 the Little Angels toured the world, visiting the 16 nations that had sent troops to support South Korea in the United Nations force during the war, ‘to provide “breathtaking and heart-warming” performances that will honour and cheer the countries’ veterans, express the deep gratitude the Korean people feel toward all Americans for preserving their freedom, and celebrate the enduring Korean-American friendship’. The tour was sponsored by the Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Committee, whose chairman, Bo Hi Pak, is also the president of the Little Angels. They played in London that October.



1 comment:

  1. "Mother of Mine" -- Little Jimmy Osmond song on MGM???



WWR Most Popular Posts