Non-profit K-Wave promotes peace and preserves Korean culture through music and art – WABE

According to the 2020 census, an estimated 71,000 Korean Americans live in Georgia, and this number has continued to increase over the past few years. Korean immigrant and founder of the Atlanta Music Academy, Ms. Young Hae Kim, has created a new non-profit organization to uplift her community.

K-Wave Outreach preserves and promotes traditional Korean culture through music and art. Their inaugural event is February 4th at the Aurora Theater in Lawrenceville. Ms. Kim joined “City Lights” host Lois Wrights via Zoom to share how she was inspired to support Korean excellence in the arts.

Following are the highlights of the interview below.

The youngest pianist to play in the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra returns:

“When I came in 1973 [to Atlanta], we had no money … but I met a gentleman whose name was Mr. Terry Wheeler, who had paid my family for my private piano lessons for three years,” Kim said. “He was the one who was very influential back then…he heard there was an audition for new students for this orchestra, and he suggested I audition for him, which I did and joined. So even then I knew that music can touch someone’s heart and then I was able to take advantage of it. So my mission now is to pass on what I have received to others.”

“After I graduated from the Peabody Conservatory, I came back to the city and realized that there was a lot of talent, especially [in] my community, the Korean community. But they had no source to find a good teacher at that time. So I think I was the pioneer in that field; to connect good teachers with good students. That prompted me to start the Atlanta Music Academy.”

Why childhood music education can be a game changer:

“There are immeasurable benefits and advantages to taking up music [early]. First, you teach them discipline and you also teach them the value of hard work. If you want to get good and just practice just two notes or one phrase, you have to go through many, many, many times. So if you adopt that kind of work ethic in whatever field you’re in, you’re going to succeed,” Kim said.

How the K-Wave Outreach Project aims to promote peace through music:

“After I retired, I realized that I would like to do something for the community and for the children. There are so many talented students at the school, but I like to give talent back to the community,” reflects Kim. “I see a lot of violence, a race against race. I think it all comes from not knowing each other. If you know each other, you will see that there are many similarities in society. I mean there are more similarities than differences. So if we realize that there are many similarities in our own cultures, then there will be less misunderstandings… We can embrace all kinds of races together and we all realize that we are all connected. Yes, that is my mission to create K-Wave Outreach as a non-profit.”

A celebration of Korean culture at K-Wave’s inaugural event:

“It’s actually a long day. We start from 1:30 to 8:30. We have a yard; you can come and try our cuisine, our cosmetics, our medicine and you can see our games,” Kim said. “When you walk into the lobby you see our traditional painting and ceramics where you can actually write your own [own] scenarios on the base, and then there will be a photo area where you can take pictures in Korean costumes and you can see a Korean fan that you can write your names on. There’s a lot to see, and then, of course, in the theater at 3:00 and 6:00 we’ll have our concerts.

“We’re going to start with a very, very large Korean traditional drum. It is our tradition whenever important events start to do this. We play very big drums to let them know that this is starting, followed by Korean traditional songs played with Korean traditional instruments, followed by Korean folk songs sung by a tenor and a soprano. And then we have the K-Wave Children’s Choir, which meets every Saturday for two hours. So there will be singing and then we have the K-Wave String Ensemble performing a BTS song followed by the K-Wave Symphony Orchestra playing ‘Arirang’ played by the New York Phil when they were visiting North Korea. So we will play this and the last song will be “Gohyang-ui-Bom”, it’s very well known [song] it’s “The Springtime of My Home.” We will sing it with everyone, with the Korean flag on stage.”

The inaugural concert and fundraiser for K-Wave Outreach will be held on February 4 at the Aurora Theatre. Tickets and more information are available at

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