Wednesday, March 09, 2011

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 33. Kim Jong-Seo

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[Series Index]

33.  Kim Jong-Seo [김종서]

Years of Activity:  1986-present

Discography:
As vocal of Sinawi
Down and Up (1986)

Solo Albums
Rethona (1992)
PETSDN2 (1993)
Kim Jong Seo (1994)
Thermal Island (1995)
Kim Jong Seo V (1996)
Seeds (1998)
The Seven Kim Jong Seo (1999)
Odyssey (2001)
No. 9 (2005)

As vocal of REI
High (2010)


Representative Song:  You Without a Reply [대답없는 너] from Rethona


대답없는 너
You Without a Reply

힘없이 멈춰진 하얀 손
White hand stopped listless
싸늘히 식어가는 눈빛
Gaze turning cold
작은 그 무엇도 해줄 수가 없었던 나
I who could not do any little thing
비라도 내리길 바랬지
I wished for a rain
며칠이 갔는지 몰랐어
Did not know how many days passed
그저 숨쉬는 게 허무한 듯 느껴질 뿐
Simply felt breathing was futile

이제 난 누구의 가슴에 안겨서
Now in whose arms will I be held
아픔을 얘기해야 하는가
And speak of pain
너무 힘들다고 말하고 싶지만
Want to say this is too hard but
들어줄 너는 없는데
There is no more you who would listen

비라도 내리길 바랬지
I wished for a rain
며칠이 갔는지 몰랐어
Did not know how many days passed
그저 숨쉬는 게 허무한 듯 느껴질 뿐
Simply felt breathing was futile

이제 난 누구의 가슴에 안겨서
Now in whose arms will I be held
아픔을 얘기해야 하는가
And speak of pain
너무 힘들다고 말하고 싶지만
Want to say this is too hard but
들어줄 너는 없는데
There is no more you who would listen

Translation Note:  A persistent difficulty translating Korean from English is that Korean language does not hesitate to modify pronouns with a dependent clause, while English is somehow adverse to doing that. The result is always awkward.

In 15 Words or Less:  The last hero of Korean rock before the dark ages.

Maybe he should have been ranked higher because...  Rock is a significant genre, and he should be recognized for carrying it through.

Maybe he should have been ranked lower because...  What has he done that is musically significant in the last decade?

Why is this artist important?
Once upon a time, not too far back in the past, "rock" was more than pop music based on electric guitar, bass and drums. It was about long hair, tight leather pants and wide vocal range. It was about urgent screaming of desperation. In other words, once upon a time, Kim Jong-Seo was rock music, personified.

In the late 1980s, rock was the most popular music in Korea, not the vacuous music featuring pretty puppets. The legends of Korean rock owned TV shows and screaming fan girls. And at the center of it was Kim Jong-Seo. Kim's musical talent is undeniable, as he had just the right mix of sensitivity and overriding manliness that his genre of music required. But Kim Jong-Seo's ascension owes to more than that. With his wiry build, long-flowing mane and uncanny fashion sense (Kim has said he frequently left Korea to buy $10,000 worth of clothes per trip) -- Kim Jong-Seo just looked like a goddamn rocker.

When approached critically, Kim Jong-Seo's music is not necessary more special than other rockers like, say, Lee Seung-Cheol or Deli Spice. But when it comes to influence, there is something to be said about being the first person associated with the word "rock." And Kim stood tall as the guardian of rock music as the pop music world around him slowly crumbled. For a long time, he was the only visible reminder of what was, what could have been.

Interesting Trivia:  Kim Jong-Seo married early to a Japanese woman who was studying Korean in Korea. She was Kim's fan, an unlikely event because at the time Kim was not yet a star, but a musician playing at bars and clubs. He hid the fact that he was married to a Japanese woman from the public for more than a decade.

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

5 comments:

  1. I'm so confused. Kpop is vapid and shallow because it's all about appearance, but Kim Jong-Seo should be recognized because he "just looked like a goddamn rocker"?

    You did say he has undeniable musical talent, and the amount of music he created is definitely admirable, so I don't have a problem with his ranking. I'm just not sure why you you would praise him for his appearance when you scorn idols for the same thing. Seems a bit hypocritical, but maybe I'm misunderstanding.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Boy/girl bands are recognized on this list, right? Same reason.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had the chance to sing one of 김종서's songs with him a couple of years ago for KBS. In addition to having a hell of a voice, he was also a cool guy. The recording session was several hours and I remember sitting next to him and talking about soccer. He talked a lot about Barcelona and Messi. It was really cool hanging out and performing with a Korean rock legend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I heard Kim Jongseo married a Korean kyopo (재일 교포) who was living in Japan...not an actual Japanese woman..

    but anyway..I agree that he is extremely talented..!!!

    ReplyDelete

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