North Korea Lied about Detention, Then Freed An Ki Ok
According to an Open Radio for North Korea source, An Ki Ok, a Korean traditional musician who settled in North Korea prior to the Korean war, had been held in a North Korean prison camp, but was released after continuous inquires from South Korean musicians.
An Ki Ok (1894~1974) was a maestro of Gayakeum (Korea classical string instrument) and the southern Korean style of singing. An moved to North Korea prior to the Korean war in 1946 and worked actively in the Korean classical music field. However, he was purged and expelled during purging of the South Korean Worker’s Party members in 1960s . The 1960’s purging was a political power game between the North Korean Workers’ Party and the South’s.
The source (who is from Pyongyang and came into South Korea in 2002) was a pupil of An Seong Hyun (1920~2006), who is Mr. An’s son. She learned the South Korean style of singing from him. She claimed that An Gi Ok’s story is well-known among North Korean musicians. “An Gi Ok had an argument with Kim Il Sung about the singing style. Kim insisted North Korean Western style should be taught because Southern style was old-fashioned. An thought differently and argued with Kim Il Sung. Because of this argument, he was sent to a political prison camp (kwanliso). Kim Il Sung’s followers who thought Kim as infallible were uncomfortable with An’s attitude towards Kim.”
The fact that Kim Il Sung considered the Western singing style as a superior method and commanded the style should be passed down is written in Kim Il Sung’s autobiography, ‘With the Century’.
The source explained, “There were several inquiries from South Korean musicians about An Gi Ok condition whenever the meetings between the North and South were held. It was because he was a very famous maestro of the Korean traditional music. North Korean authorities claimed he had been sent to the rural areas to help promote the art academies in those areas. After this questioning, the authorities took him out of the kwanliso and sent him to the Yangang provincial theater in case there were any further inquiries.”
The story parallels the current case of Shin Sook Ja and her daughters, Hye Won and Gyu Won, who are held in North Korea. It also casts doubt on the official response from North Korea regarding the death of Shin Suk Ja, and adds credence to the claims of NGOs who assert that the North Korean statement is a fabrication.