Tuesday, March 22, 2011

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 32. Patti Kim

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[Series Index]

32.  Patti Kim [패티김]

Years of Activity:  1958-present

Discography:
(Patti Kim did issue albums prior to 1969, but the information online only traces back to 1969.)

Stereo Highlight Vol. 3: The White House [스테레오 하이라이트 Vol. 3: 하얀집] (1969)
Patti Kim Stereo Vol. 5 [패티金 스테레오 Vol. 5] (1970)
Patti Kim '70 (1970)
Patti Kim '71 (1971)
'74 Bronze Medalist in the Third Tokyo World Music Festival ['74 제3회 동경 가요제 세계대회 동상 수상] (1974)
Wind [바람] (1974)
Patti Kim Greatest Hit Album Vol. 5 (1975)
Stereo Lifetime Vol. 1 [스테레오 일대작 제1집] (1976)
Patti Kim Sings Love [사랑을 노래하는 패티김] (1978)
Unforgettable by Patti Kim [패티김의 못잊어] (1978)
Homecoming Grand Concert [귀국 대공연] (1978)
Love that Left Autumn Behind [가을을 남기고 간 사랑] (1983)
Patti Kim '84 (1984)
Light and Shadow [빛과 그림자] (1985)
Hit Song 1 [힛송 1] (1986)
Patti Kim (1990)
Patti Kim (1991)
Life is a Small Boat [인생은 작은 배] (1994)
Love is the Flower of Life [사랑은 생명의 꽃] (1997)
Patti Kim (1999)
The One & Only (2008)
Friendship [우정] (2009)
Patti Kim Golden Best (2009)

Representative Song:  Love that Left Autumn Behind, from Love that Left Autumn Behind.


가을을 남기고 떠난 사랑
Love that Left Autumn Behind

가을을 남기고 떠난 사랑
Love that left autumn behind
겨울은 아직 멀리 있는데
But the winter is far away yet
사랑 할수록 깊어가는 슬픔의 눈물은
The tears of sorrow that deepens as I love
향기로운 꿈이었나
Were they a fragrant dream
당신의 눈물이 생각날때
When I recall your tears
기억에 남아있는 꿈들이
The dreams remaining in my memory,
눈을 감으면 수많은 별이 되어
When I close my eyes, will turn into countless stars
어두운 밤 하늘에 흘러가리
And flow in the dark night sky


아 그대 곁에 잠들고 싶어라
Oh how I wish to sleep by your side
날개를 접은 철새처럼
Like a migratory bird with folded wings
눈물로 쓰여진 그 편지는
The letter written with tears
눈물로 다시 지우렵니다
I will erase again with tears
내 가슴에 봄은 멀리 있지만
Though to my heart, spring is far away
내 사랑 꽃이 되고 싶어라
How my love wishes to be a flower

아 그대 곁에 잠들고 싶어라
Oh how I wish to sleep by your side
날개를 접은 철새처럼
Like a migratory bird with folded wings
눈물로 쓰여진 그 편지는
The letter written with tears
눈물로 다시 지우렵니다
I will erase again with tears
내 가슴에 봄은 멀리 있지만
Though to my heart, spring is far away
내 사랑 꽃이 되고 싶어라
How my love wishes to be a flower

Translation Note:  The words "migratory bird" loses all poetic meaning in English and turns into a clunker that weighs down the romance of the song.

In 15 Words or Less:  Korea's first pop star.

Maybe she should have been ranked higher because...  Patti Kim debuted in 1958. Just think about how old your parents were in 1958. And she is still going strong to this day as a septuagenarian.

Maybe she should have been ranked lower because...  Did she do a single musically special thing that lived beyond the prime of her career?

Why is this artist special?
For people who like to indulge in imagining a post-apocalyptic world, Korea in the 1950s was a close approximation. Korea began the 20th century as an extremely poor and backward country, followed by 36 years of brutal and exploitative imperial rule. After a short-lived run after the liberation, it would enter into a civil war that was as much a total war as any other war in modern history.

When the Korean looks at Patti Kim's career, a single number arrests his sight and does not let go: 1958. Only five years after the war that leveled everything and killed or wounded around four million people. Four million lives. Can you even imagine that? Just for a frame of reference, right now Japan is (rightly) receiving an outpouring of international support after its horrific earthquake, which had a toll of around 25,000 dead/wounded/missing people. In the wake of an utter, total destruction, how does it make sense to hope?

More pertinently, how does it make sense to hope that one would make a career as a singer? Remember, "pop stars" did not exist in Korea in the 1950s. Heck, "pop culture" did not exist in Korea. There were some popular singers, but their status was roughly equal to clowns at a traveling carnival in modern day America -- entertainers, yes, but not rich and not respected. Few Koreans of the 1940s grew up dreaming to be a star. Most probably did not know what that meant. Which makes Patti Kim's artistic career all the more remarkable.

Born as Kim Hye-Ja, Kim began her career as a singer for the U.S. military stationed in Korea. She took the stage name of "Patti" for Patti Page, one of the hottest names in American pop music scene at the time. In fact, they bear a fleeting resemblance to each other:


Kim continued her career by becoming an exclusive singer for the club at what is now the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul. Since then, Patti Kim's career was nothing but pioneering and trailblazing. She was the first Korean pop singer to be invited by NHK broadcasting studio of Japan for a concert. She was also the first Korean pop singer to hold a concert at the Carnegie Hall. She appeared on Tonight Show by Johnny Carson. And she continues to chug along, still holding concerts at 72-year-young. Although she did not really break any grounds as a musician -- someone else composed nearly all of her songs -- her stage presence is reported to be legendary.

Given the strength of Korea's pop culture worldwide, it is amazing to think that its roots trace back to a USO show or a dark nightclub of a hotel. But that is so, and Patti Kim was in the middle of it.

Interesting trivia 1:  Patti Kim's song Parting [이별] is rumored to be one of Kim Jong-Il's favorite songs.

Interesting trivia 2:  This turned up in the Korean's research and he couldn't not share.


Look at that scandalous cleavage!! In Korea of 1960s!! (Source)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

15 comments:

  1. Jesus Christ, why am I just finding out about this woman?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkFAdB1UKrM

    I don't think I've ever been more in love.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aww, I'm sad to see Patti Kim listed so low on your list. I thought for sure she would make the top 20.

    Patti Kim has one of the most powerful and distinctive voice in kpop history (dare I say a voice that comes once in a lifetime, the other being Jo Soomi?), and although she did not compose her own songs (we need to credit her ex-husband/composer Gil Ok Yoon for that), it still amazes me how her songs withstood the test of time.

    But now does that mean I share the same musical taste as KJI? Errg, that thought leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 1958? Wow.

    My dad was born in '58 and my mum was not even alive.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Seasonal" might be a better than "migratory"?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Maybe, but they are about equally unpoetic. Anglophones just do not have the stock image of migratory birds, tired from their long journey.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You have a point. In that case, perhaps "migrant bird" is a better translation. That gives a stronger impression of travel.

    I might even translate as "folded up like a migrant bird". It works well in English, even if it's not quite word-for-word.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "migrant bird"... that's good. "migratory" is too scientific.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thought I'd have a stab at it:

    Love that left me in Autumn,
    Though Winter is yet far away,
    Tears of sorrow deepening together with my love,
    Was it just the whisper (scent) of a dream?
    If I recall your tears,
    The dreams I still remember,
    When I close my eyes, change to countless stars,
    And flow in a dark night sky.

    Ah to sleep by your side,
    Like a bird with folded wings at journey's end,
    The words written with tears,
    I will wipe away again with tears,
    Though to my heart Spring is far away,
    My love, like a flower, desires to open.

    Ah to sleep by your side,
    Like a bird with folded wings at journey's end,
    The words written with tears,
    I will wipe away again with tears,
    Though to my heart Spring is far away,
    My love, like a flower, desires to open.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Matt,

    Thank you. Your version is way more beautiful than the Korean's. The Korean's only quibble is this: "Love that left me in Autumn."

    가을을 남기고 떠나간 사랑 is already a pretty awkward phrase in Korean. The Korean thinks that the awkwardness was deliberate -- a device to make the listeners focus on the words. Changing that to a more natural (and pretty significantly different) translation of 가을에 떠나간 사랑... I don't know.

    ReplyDelete
  10. To The Korean:

    Thank you! But you did all the real work!

    I didn't realise that the first line was awkward in Korean. I thought perhaps it conveyed a different sense to that of the literally translated English.

    Still, the phrase '남기고 간다' wouldn't be used in all kinds of everyday prosaic situations the way we use 'leaving something behind', would it?

    ReplyDelete
  11. It would, but "leaving autumn behind" is still pretty awkward, even in Korean.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Stumbled upon this after looking for info on Patti Kim -- my girlfriend was researching her and told me a bunch of stuff, so I don't have sources on them, but this is what she told me:

    Kim, after a brief marriage to a Korean songwriter ending in divorce, ended up marrying a non-Korean. The stuff I ran across online suggested he was "Italian" but he could have been Italian-American. This was in the 1970s, and apparently a wave of rumors circulated about how she'd "cruelly abandoned" her songwriter husband to get with a foreigner. Given what Korean women with non-Korean men have to put up with these days, I imagine she took a lot more flack than that for it.

    Incidentally, her side of the story was that she wasn't able to live with the alcoholism and constant gambling of her composer ex-husband, though she continued to respect her ex-husband as a musician.

    So it seems a kind of audaciousness in doing what she needed or wanted to do -- divorce in the 1970s, marrying a non-Korean and having a mixed-race kid -- ran through her life generally.

    It's interesting, though, that while one can find pictures of Kim, and of her biracial daughter, are common online, we didn't find a single image of her foreign husband. Not saying it's not there, just that we didn't find it despite a few different searches.

    She also, very interestingly, commented that back in the day, everyone did plastic surgery, but nobody called it that. She said that when it started to become a social issue, she didn't know what people were talking about at first, but that "everyone did that" back in the "old days" (which I'm guessing means the 1970s?).

    Also, here's some badass video of her in 1966; she reminds me here of nobody so much as Ella Fitzgerald.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ooops, that's the same video the first commenter posted... sorry Stewart

    ReplyDelete
  14. I was in Korea in the late 60's and early 70's ....a friend gave me a record that has a song which is title is White House....Can anyone help me find it on the web?

    ReplyDelete

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