Why Clinton suddenly rushed to the KBS Open Concert after dinner with the DJ – Chosun Ilbo VRESP TODAY

On November 21, 1998, U.S. Presidents Clinton and Bill, along with their singer younger brothers Clinton and Roger, are waving to attendees who are giving a standing ovation at the KBS open concert ‘Korea-US Friendship Concert’ recorded at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. ./Chosun Ilbo DB

After joining the Chosun Ilbo, he served as a reporter for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, head of the diplomatic and security team, Washington-Tokyo correspondent, head of the international department, editorial writer, and head of the political department at TV Chosun, covering the field of diplomacy and security for 25 years. Based on our past experience and network, we will report on issues covered behind the scenes in the diplomatic and security fields.

Did you know that former U.S. President Bill Clinton appeared on the popular program ‘KBS Open Concert’, which airs every Sunday, to encourage his younger brother, an unknown singer? The KBS Open Concert, which started in 1993, has recorded 1,472 performances as of April, and it is unprecedented for a sitting U.S. president to appear on the recording site without any notice.

On Saturday, November 21, 1998, when I was working as a social affairs reporter, I received an order from the desk. We have received information that President Clinton, who is visiting Korea, will appear at the recording of the KBS Open Concert held at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, so we are asking you to report on it. To coincide with Clinton’s visit to Korea, KBS held a ‘Friendship Concert for Korea-US friendship’ and invited his younger brother, Roger Clinton. Roger, who visited Korea before his brother, was caught by this newspaper’s news network as saying to the person in charge of his Korean itinerary, “My brother decided to come see my performance after the summit with President Kim Dae-jung.”

Roger is actually an unknown singer who is not widely known in the United States, but for the sake of Korea-US relations, the public broadcaster KBS gave him special treatment. Clinton is famous for loving his half-brother Roger very much. The Clinton brothers’ close relationship is described in his autobiography, ‘My Life.’ The Kim Dae-jung government began human and material exchanges between North and South Korea, which had previously been taboo, through the Hyundai Group, and it can be said that Roger’s appearance was planned to gain Clinton’s favor.

Anyway, my job that day was to cover Clinton’s appearance at the KBS Open Concert and report it before the deadline for the local edition. The photo department sent reporter Chae Seung-woo. However, when I checked with the Blue House and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time, a visit to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts was not included in Clinton’s itinerary. As a summit meeting and dinner with President Kim Dae-jung were scheduled until late that evening, reporters responded skeptically, asking, “Will Clinton have time to go there?” I watched the show on Saturday evening, grumbling about the ‘stretchy coverage’ while still wondering, “Is Clinton really going to come?” (At that time, the Sunday newspaper was published.)

The open concert, which started around 8 p.m., was a lively event with the U.S. Forces Korea military band and Samulnori troupe also appearing. Roger appeared and sang several pop songs. I found out that one of the songs he sang was Shaky Around through an announcement from the Blue House the next day. Roger also sang ‘Proud Mary’, which was translated into ‘Watermill Life’ in Korea, along with Insooni and Cho Young-nam.

I started to get anxious because the concert didn’t end even though it was past 10pm. “The article in the city edition is due soon… .” At that time, Roger, who had been singing several songs in succession, spoke to the audience at around 10:40. “Today is the happiest day of my life. “Introducing my brother, President Clinton.”

Then, President Clinton appeared next to the stage, surrounded by about 30 attendants and bodyguards, and walked towards the audience. A shout of “Wow” erupted from the audience. The audience unanimously gave a standing ovation.

President Kim Dae-jung and U.S. President Bill Clinton are toasting before having a dinner at the Blue House guesthouse on the evening of November 21, 1988./Yonhap News

Clinton hugged her younger brother Roger tightly at center stage. He even waved his hands vigorously at the audience. After waving to the orchestra members behind the stage, Clinton went to the side of the stage and listened to her brother sing for about 10 more minutes before returning to her lodgings.

When we covered the situation the next day, we found out that Clinton’s visit to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts had not been discussed with us in advance. Clinton said that after the summit dinner with President Kim Dae-jung ended after 10 o’clock that evening, he suddenly said, “I want to go to the place where his brother is appearing.” The President of the United States said he was going to see his brother, but I couldn’t stop him. Our government officials were extremely embarrassed by Clinton’s ‘unexpected behavior’. The Sejong Center for the Performing Arts was put on high alert because there was no security system in place to prepare for the US President’s visit.

If Clinton’s visit had been planned even in secret, security could not have been so lax that day. In my experience, the most difficult reporting in the world is covering events involving the President of the United States. As I have experienced several times as a Washington correspondent, if you want to attend a U.S. presidential event, your identity must be verified in advance. You will have to go through security checks several times on site. But on this day, there was none of these procedures. Maybe that’s why Clinton came on stage with bodyguards. This happened 26 years ago, at a time when the scales of Korea-US relations were heavily tilted towards the United States.


#1 On this day, I was sitting at the back of the stage, and when Clinton came out to the center of the stage, I ran to the front to get a closer look. At that time, Clinton’s security guards all glared at me and immediately stopped when they saw that their right hands seemed to be going inside their suits. This is because I was very worried that I might be accused of being an assassin and get shot.

#2 I ran at full speed from the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts to the editorial office of the Chosun Ilbo to publish an article about the Clinton brothers in the downtown edition of the Chosun Ilbo, which closes around midnight. I remember it took about 3 minutes. Reporter Chae Seung-woo accurately captured the scene of Clinton putting his right hand around Roger’s shoulder and shaking his left hand, and passed it on to the editorial department. This article was published only in this paper the next day. The KBS Open Concert special broadcast was aired on the afternoon and evening of the 22nd when this paper’s report was published.

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About bryan michael

I am a news writer, editor and journalist with more than 13 years of experience. I have an MA in Journalism and have published work in various publications around the world. With me, you don't have to worry about copyright and defamation issues or being punished by search engines. You get original work that complies with media laws. Communication: I really prioritize good communication with clients, from their expectations to the initial plan and vision of the project in particular. Tell me what you want - even down to the level of 'how' you want it written. Nonetheless, I must note that self-expression is very important to me and I hope to reach a solution together with the client but not at the expense of the quality of the finished product.

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