"I heard we can come alongside the pier on Dokdo for just one month a year only when weather allows, and I'm here especially because of the March 1 Independence Movement Day. I feel like I'm gonna cry if I continue talking".
So said Kim Jang-hoon
, 43, a Korean singer who performed on Dokdo in North Gyeongsang Province at 3 p.m. on a drizzling Tuesday.
Though he left Seoul Sunday, he was stranded in the port of Gangneung, Gangwon Province, due to bad weather and reached the islets after being seasick for four hours. Taking sleeping pills to get over seasickness, he shouted "Hurray!" while waving the Korean national flag when seeing the islets.
Upon arrival, Kim made a stage and started the concert, his first on Dokdo as a pop singer. He sang the Korean national anthem, "I Am a Man", "Opera" and "Arirang" with his signature kicks and passionate dance.
Samulnori, a group of traditional Korean instrument players, made it even more exciting.
The audience sang along and waved the national flag. Attending the event included Seo Kyoung-duk, a Korean public relations expert and visiting professor at Sungshin Women's University who ran an ad on Dokdo in the New York Times; members of VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea), a non-government organization promoting Korea; Korea Student Volunteers (V Expedition); and 42 people selected by the Korean social networking site Cyworld.
"I'm so excited to be here on Dokdo because I saw (it) only in pictures", said Unes Elgasmi, 23, a Moroccan who joined VANK after watching a video clip on the islets.
She sang along with "Oh, Dokdo Concert", a song using the melody from "Oh, Pilseung Korea (Victory Korea)", a song used to root for the national soccer team in the 2002 World Cup soccer finals.
Kim and Seo had thought about a concert on Dokdo in 2009. They planned to hold a concert Monday but could not reach the islets because of a high wave alert in Gangneung. Other vessels returned for safety reasons but Kim did not give up.
"If I can`t go this time, then I'll go on March 6. If that doesn't work, I'll go on March 20. Wouldn't it be touching if I go to Dokdo despite all the challenges?" Kim said.
When the alert was lifted at 5 a.m. Tuesday, he got on the Seastar at 9 a.m. and left for Dokdo. He was unsure if he could reach the islets because of light snow, but the weather cleared up and the vessel reached Dokdo at 1:15 p.m.
Kim, who said it was his first time to visit Dokdo, looked at the islets and the sea and said, "Why do people fight over such beautiful islets?"
"Because of seasickness, I thought I cannot come again but after I arrived here, I'm happy like a child and want to come here again", he said. "I want to cherish my first memory of Dokdo like a fond memory of a lover".
After the concert, Kim told The Dong-A Ilbo that he wants to hold regular concerts on Dokdo like Woodstock of the U.S. He named the concert "East Sea Korea Festival" in consideration of the dispute over the name of the body of water separating Korea and Japan.
"I'm neither a scientist nor a politician. I'm a singer. I want to take a cultural approach with the music I have. Wouldn't it be nice if we could invite world-famous singers such as Madonna to the festival? The festival will take root in five years and we can advertise Dokdo with the proceeds", he said.