DMZ Peace Train Festival

Transcending Boundaries

Written by: Roya Arlisa Cartledge 

Photos by: DMZ Peace Train


Music is a universal feature of the human experience. Something beautiful is born out of music when it's heard. Throughout history, music has been regarded as expressive. It has the ability to convey emotions, human characters, identity, and beauty. Music is undeniably a powerful tool. The soulfulness of it when it’s played transcends all barriers. Music appeals to the human soul, not only because it’s relatable, but because it’s unifying. Music appeals to the part of the soul that knows no boundaries.

These underly notions of music were the motivating factors behind the DMZ Peace Train Festival. Launching just last year, the festival was started with the purpose “to transcend politics, economy, and ideology, to experience freedom and peace.” There is little to no wonder why thousands have gathered for the second year in a row to partake in such an inspiring festival. Principally located in Cheorwon County in South Korea’s Gangwon Province, the DMZ Peace Train Festival has grown from last year’s two-day event to a three-day event. With an expanded line-up of 40 performers from 12 countries from across the globe, the festival is located just near the North and South Korean border of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

The location of Cheorwon is ideal for the hopes that the festival desires to bring about. Cheorwon is an area that is truly astonishing. It has a darker past that is duly noted as symbolizing the division of the Korean Peninsula, filled with bloody battles and tense border activity. However, it is surrounded by lush vegetation and scenic views. The area has become a tourist attraction in Korea due to its expansive history and sensational scenery. Cheorwon county is an area one ought to experience.

Activities for the festival were spread across various locations in Cheorwon between Nodongdangsa, Goseokjeon, and Woljeong-ri station. In addition, an opening ceremony was held in Seoul at Platform Changdon 61. A diversity of people of different ages all came to promote peace while enjoying the sounds of live music throughout the weekend. Musical acts spanned across a multitude of genres from alternative, electronic, folk,  jazz, reggae, RnB, rock, and soul. There were over 10,500 attendees over the three days. The environment was one that was completely inclusive, relaxing yet thoroughly energetic. The scheduled events included special programs, conference meetings, DJ sets, live bands, dance performances, and plays. One was sure to find something they could have enjoyed during the festival.

With the tagline “Dancing for a borderless world,” Peace Train invites listeners to board a musical journey designed to erase misconceptions and build bridges. Let’s all be inspired to dream of a better future. A future where humanity is united inspired by the catalyst of music.

Sean Choi