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K-pop star brings his chorus to Harvard

Lee Seung Chul (foreground) practices with members of With-U at Boston University Thursday.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Lee Seung Chul (foreground) practices with members of With-U at Boston University Thursday.

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K-pop singer-songwriter Lee Seung Chul has been a prominent member of South Korean culture for more than two decades. Known in his home country as the “Emperor of Live Music,” Lee performed this past Friday at Harvard University alongside the With-U choir, a collection of North Korean defectors, as a part of his One Nation campaign for a reunified Korean peninsula. The group performed a song called “One Day,” which Lee hopes will become an anthem. “Previously, I gave my talent in teaching students from prison, and then my next project was teaching troubled teens. Now this project is defected students,” Lee said through a translator as he rehearsed with the group in Boston before the performance.

Those students included Kang Won Cheol, who first fled North Korea when he was 17. When Kang was caught trying to flee his homeland, he was sentenced to serve in a labor camp. After five months, he was released because of malnourishment and brought to South Korea by a missionary. Lee, who worked with musical director Yu-Miran during rehearsal, said he plans to bring his cause — and the chorus — to the global stage, and perform in the hazardous demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. “I’m looking for other top musicians from the world such as Bono to be able to join this project and be able to sing together this unification ‘One Day’ song. I really strongly believe we have to do a concert in the demilitarized zone. Because this is not only the wish of the South and the North Korea, but I really believe this is a wish of the world.”

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