In the aftermath of criticism over a song perceived as anti-U.S., pianist Lang Lang has issued a formal statement explaining his reasons for selecting the song to perform at the White House gala for China president Hu Jintao.
The statement was issued on Tuesday through New York public relations firm Keith Sherman and Associates.
Lang said, "It was my great honor to be invited to perform at the White House. I played two pieces - one was from Europe and one was a beautiful traditional melody that I grew up with called 'My Motherland.' I am an artist first and foremost. I selected this song because it has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. It was selected for no other reason but for the beauty of its melody. As an artist, I use music to bring people together. I truly consider both America and China to be my homes and I wouldn't be who I am today without both countries."
The significance of 'My Motherland' came to light after The New Epoch Times, a China indie newspaper, shed light on the meaning of the song. The paper is critical of China's policy on human rights. The US Report featured a story about the incident in an earlier column. 'My Motherland' is the theme song from a China-made movie about the Korean War.
Lang is a young man, and the Korean conflict is rarely taught in depth in schools today. The war was devastating for both sides. The St. Petersburg Times, in a special report, said, "There were 33,741 U.S. battle deaths among the U.S. service members serving in the war theater, according to Defense Department figures as of March 15, 2003. Another 2,835 died of non-battle causes, bringing the total dead to 36,576." Those losses came on the heels of US losses in World War II.
Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans were also killed or wounded. SPT said, "On the communist side, more than 400,000 Chinese soldiers and nearly 215,000 North Korean soldiers were killed."
War was technically not declared by the US Congress. Democrat Party president Harry Truman with support from Congress sent troops via what he termed a "police action."
Some pundits analyzing Lang's performance have questioned why there was no protocol in place for screening beforehand at the White House.
Korean War Oral History Interview
First Lieutenant Thomas Martin
US Army, 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division
Site: National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey
(Filed by Kay B. Day/Jan. 25, 2011)