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Mallorca's Korean connection

Eak Tai Ahn and Aegukga

If you've been watching the Winter Olympics from South Korea you'll have heard the national anthem of that country once or twice. Featured in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the main games you were probably whistling along to it by the end of the ceremony.

The anthem, called Aegukga, has a connection with Mallorca because its composer Eak Tai Ahn (Ahn is the Korean family name and would normally be written Ahn Eak Tai) lived in Palma for 20 years! Already a famous Cellist, orchestra director and composer in his home country, he was giving concerts in Spain when he met his wife María Dolores Talavera.

They settled in Cala Major in 1946 and during their time there Eak Tai founded the Symphony Orchestra of the Balearic Islands and also composed the Symphonic Poem of the Balearic Islands. Because of his cultural contribution to both Palma and Korea, both the city council and Korean government have contributed to monuments to him.

The South Koreans provided the finance to renovate and restore his house in Cala Major as a museum, located at Carrer de Josep Costa i Ferrer 4 in Cala Major which was opened by their ambassador a couple of years ago.

In the centre of Palma, just by the Hotel Can Alomar on the Paseo del Borne, you can see a very modernistic water feature dedicated to the composer together with information about himself and his works. It's quite a striking monument and well worth a look, but mind how you go, I've seen people walk right through the water who weren't paying enough attention.