|Glen Matlock, former bassist of the Sex Pistols / Courtesy of Glen Matlock|
By Jon Dunbar
Several types of firearms are restricted in the DMZ, but Korea's indie music community is bringing a different kind of weapon the signatories of the 1953 Armistice never would have imagined: a Sex Pistol.
Glen Matlock, the founding bassist of legendary U.K. punk band Sex Pistols, will perform on Sunday at DMZ Peace Train Music Festival in Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province.
"I don't know too much about the whole thing but I thought it would be good to come and see for myself," Matlock told The Korea Times. "You get all these second-hand reports in the paper and everyone has these vested interests, and it would be nice to see what's going on on the ground _ and lend my voice and name to the quest for world peace and rock out a little bit."
Now a solo musician, he is also expected to collaborate with Korea's own first-generation punks, including Crying Nut and Cha-Cha of No Brain.
"Exactly what I'm gonna do I've got a couple ideas," Matlock said. "I'll just get together with the lads and see what happens, really."
The festival was co-founded by his fellow countryman, Martin Elbourne, main booker of Glastonbury Festival and co-founder of The Great Escape. Elbourne, described as the "77th most powerful person in the music industry," came to Korea last October for Zandari Festa.
Zandari organizers Dalse Kong Yoon-young and Lee Dong-yeon brought him up to the DMZ, where the open space gave him the idea for a music festival. He returned to Korea in January to meet with Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-soon and Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan, who agreed to fund the festival. Then all that was left to do was scramble to prepare a new international music from scratch, inside the world's most heavily fortified border region.
"For our first year we wanted to invite many great international musicians but we lack money," said Lee, also a professor and vice president at Korea National University of Arts. "We gave up on that, not just because of money but time. And in the middle of planning, the great news came one of the members of Sex Pistols wanted to get involved. Glen Matlock is symbolic of how the festival is going forward in the future. Even great famous musicians will want spontaneously to join without asking for much money."
Matlock has only asked festival organizers to cover his airfare.
"I like to get involved with things that hopefully have more consequences these days," Matlock said. "I'm on a fact-finding mission."
Other international acts represent Taiwan, France, Togo, Japan, Thailand and Palestine. There are also 23 great Korean acts, including Jambinai, Say Sue Me and Kiha & the Faces.
Earlier in planning, there was talk of inviting North Korean musicians, but Lee said they lacked time.
"Maybe next year, two years later," he said. "The political situation makes it very hard to get harmonized politically, economically and culturally."
The event begins Thursday and Friday with seminars in Seoul's Platform Changdong 61, which will include roundtables with Elbourne and Matlock.
On Saturday and Sunday, the festival takes place at three stages located at Woljeong-ri Station, the Communist Party Headquarters ruins and Goseokjeong Land.
Although the festival has been reported to North Korea, Lee said it's unlikely the sound will travel that far, as the louder bands will be playing at the locations further south.
Festival entry is free, but transport may not be and could pose problems, as Lee says 12,000 people have RSVPed. The organizers have arranged shuttle buses but many have been booked up. Lee recommends attendees make their own travel arrangements.
Visit dmzpeacetrain.com or fb.com/dmzpeacetrain for more information.