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02february2011023Dharamshala: Seven Korean students arrived with Tibetan musician Kharag Penpa last week in Dharamshala. "They are here for a cultural exchange, in order to learn more about Tibetan arts", says M. Penpa, who currently lives in Seoul. Since their arrival, the students are teaching music at College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS), Sarah and, at the same time, lead some research concerning Tibetan traditional arts. They also grabb the occasion to give concerts in different places of Mcleod Ganj.

Talking about their experience inside the Tibetan community, the Koreans expressed their compassion toward Tibetan people living in exile, far away from their own family. They also underlined the similarities between the two countries' people and culture, which make them feel comfortable among Tibetans. As teachers, they highlighted the children's skills and passion to learn more.

During they stay in Dharamsala, Pema Tso from The Tibet Post interviewed Kharag Penpa about his experience as a Tibetan musician living in South Korea. M. Penpa studied at TCV School before to join TIPA, where he studied Tibetan songs, music and dance for three years. He then went back to TCV as a teacher for 8 years. At the end of April 2007, he decided to South Korea, to learn traditional music at the University. According to him, Tibetan music level remains low and it can only benefit from learning from other countries' musical knowledge.

How did you start learning music and dance?
Since I was small, I enjoyed dancing and singing. The more I learned about it, the more I was interested and attracted. I have released five albums so far. One of them contains my concerts in Korea, where I also had the opportunity to join the national orchestra three times.

02february2011024In Tibet, musicians pinpoint political or education issues, for example, through their lyrics. In exile, they rather sing about love and light topics. What do you think about that?
Tibetan tradition is very important. But it is like a fundament on which we have to build new things. We need to create, to innovate. At TCV, students learn a lot about traditional music, but then it is only limited to the Tibetan society. If you learn music from all over the world, you can use other musical standards and spread your music outside strict national boundaries.

How can music and dance have an impact on societies?
They cannot benefit all the Tibetan people, but when I was in Korea, I always kept explaining about Tibetan songs and music. Korean people think that Tibetan music is very quiet, in a way that reminds of some meditation songs. They are always surprised to see that in fact it is dynamic and lively. I try to introduce Tibetan music to people and to increase their knowledge about it.

What do Korean like the more about Tibet?
They know Tibetan buddhism, but they don't only focus on religion. They also appreciate Tibetan people in general.

You gave many concerts those past years. What is your most popular song?
When His Holiness the Dalai Lama got 70 years old, I wrote a song called Kundun, on a text written by a monk named Peru Jigme Wanggyal. This song got the best award in a music contest and I think that in the Tibetan society, everybody knows and likes that song.

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