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China, the place where my dream sets sail

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By Shin Moonsub | | Updated: Feb 21, 2022

[Republic of Korea] Shin Moonsub, Shenzhen University

Shin Moonsub (The fourth on the right in the first row). [Photo provided to]

My mother once told me that my musical journey started since I was still in her womb – she had me listening to all kinds of music every day. Though I couldn’t recall whether it is Beethoven or Mozart, I have had a seed of "music dream" planted in my heart since then.

At the age of four, my mom introduced me to a new "friend" – piano. At the first sight, I thought it was nothing but a noise-making toy, but gradually it became my closest friend. I enjoyed the happiness it brought to me. Besides playing piano, I also liked singing. At the age of 11, I joined in Korean Haeundae Boys and Girls Chorus, and found my love in choir since then. Whenever the chorus sang, I always felt that all of us seemed to merge into one, and the resonance that we together made was so natural and moving.

In 2010, I came to China with my family and started to study here. What surprised me were the diversity and openness of China. I made a lot of like-minded friends here.

the "International Chorus" [Photo provided to]

Then in 2016, I founded in Shenzhen an "International Chorus" formed by young people from all over the world. Unexpectedly, I had to learn everything from the establishment to the management of the band. The chorus was not big at first, and we need to support and tolerate each other on everything such as member recruitment, rehearsals, performing and translation. No one was perfect, while being together we could learn from each other and make ourselves better. In my opinion, this is exactly the charm of chorus.

However, the journey to dream is never smooth. I still remember our first performance in 2017. While being happy for more new members on board, I had a lot of difficulties, too. For example, I tried my best to borrow costumes for the performance. In the end we still had one suit short so an Iranian member had to perform in a white shirt, and I really felt ashamed at that time. In the face of difficulties, I had to confront them bravely rather than escaping from them cowardly.

During the past years, many people joined the chorus and many left. Nevertheless, I would remember every one of them. I still remember Martin, one of our first chorus members. At the interview, many interviewers were against of having him on board since he was very introverted then, not good at expressing himself and his singing was just so-so. While I thought these weren’t problems since I was exactly the same before, and I believed that music could change and bring power to every music lover.

Wenshan lake, Shenzhen University [Photo provided by Shin Moonsub]

After participating, he didn’t have any sense of existence in the chorus at first, but gradually he got used to life here. As time went by, he made many friends. Whenever a chorus member met him, they always called out his name "Martin"! He was shy at these moments. However, I could feel the power, which was encouragement.

In his senior year, I recommended him to be a deputy leader of the band. Though others were not sure whether he was fit or not, I believed that he could make it, since he had been with the chorus for three years.

Time flies fast. He really made it that year. Introverted as he was, he handled all kinds of things perfectly, and chorus members were all very cooperative. At his graduation, he sincerely said to everyone, "Thank you everyone, thank you my leader for your company and guidance these years. I have grown up a lot and learned a lot in our chorus. Thank you all for the encouragement that you have given to me. I am really very happy that I have met so many good friends here, and I cannot bear to leave." Hearing his words and recalling all the good memories and his changes in the chorus, I almost burst into tears.

Shenzhen University Library [Photo provided by Shin Moonsub]

A few years passed quickly, and the chorus has experienced a lot of changes. In recent years, our chorus has traveled to many places in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and even Beijing. We have performed in different stages, won lots of awards, been interviewed by many media, and been on TV shows, too. But I still enjoy most the moments of singing with my chorus.

Since last year, I started to learn to compose and arrange. At the university graduation ceremony of 2019, my chorus sang the song "I like it", which was arranged by my chorus members and me. Many graduated members also came back to the university to rehearse and perform especially for this event. I was particularly moved by the power that this journey and music has brought to me. It seems that my dream has been setting sail, and my music dream has been realized.

I think this is exactly the charm of music, irrelevant to languages or countries. A dream would become true as long as you love and persist it. Love knows no country borders, and so does music. Being proud of myself, I am also deeply grateful to this land where I have grown for 10 years – China, the place where my dream sets sail.

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).