Performers sing in memoriam of Jeju 4·3 to mark the 70th anniversary of the tragedy (above). The lyrics to ‘An Elegy for Little Camellias’ (bottom left) and ‘The Sleepless Southern Island’ (bottom right). Photo courtesy Memorial Committee for the 70th Anniversary of the Jeju 4·3 Uprising and Massacre (4370 Newspaper No. 4)


The songs of April that

commemorate the Jeju 4·3

‘An Elegy for Little Camellias’ and ‘The Sleepless Southern Island’ are local favorites


Among the songs that commemorate the tragedy of the Jeju Uprising and Massacre, “An Elegy for Little Camellias” and “The Sleepless Southern Island” are the most popular. “An Elegy for Little Camellias” begins with the line “When snow falls white and white over the mountain, the fields turn red and red with the blossoms.” It was first released in April 2001 as part of the musical score of a play on Jeju 4·3. Local singer-songwriter Choi Sang-don wrote and composed the song. In February 2006, he set out on a journey in search of inspiration for his songs on Jeju 4·3. He has so far composed over 100 songs from his travels around many different sites on the island that have traces of the massacre.

“The Sleepless Southern Island” is a people’s song written and composed by Korean people’s music artist An Chi-hwan. The song describes the painful memory of Jeju 4·3 that dates back to the mid and late 1940s. Ending with the line “Oh — the years of treason / Oh — the years of wailing / Oh — the sleepless southern island and Mt. Hallasan,” the song was previously banned from being performed in public. The 2018 memorial service marking the 70th anniversary of Jeju 4·3 presented the chorale version of the long-prohibited song, striking a touching chord with the audience.