Sunday, March 17, 2013

50 Most Influential K-pop Artists: 15. Kim Geon-mo

[Series Index]

15. Kim Geon-mo [김건모]

Also romanized as:  Kim Gunmo

Years of Activity: 1998 - present 

Discography:
Picture Painted After Parting [이별 뒤에 그린 그림] (1992)
Kim Geon-mo 2 [김건모 2] (1993)
The Wrong Encounter [잘못된 만남] (1995)
Exchange Kg. M4 (1996)
Myself (1997)
Growing (1999)
#007 Another Days... (2001)
Hestory (2003)
Kimgunmo 9 (2004)
Be Like... (2005)
Scarecrow [허수아비] (2007)
Soul Groove (2008)
Everything's Gonna Be Alright (2009)
Autobiography & Best [自敍傳 & Best] (2011)

Representative Song:  잘못된 만남 [The Wrong Encounter] from 잘못된 만남 (1995)


잘못된 만남
The Wrong Encounter

난 너를 믿었던 만큼 난 내 친구도 믿었었기에
Because I trusted my friend as much as I trusted you
난 아무런 부담없이 널 내 친구에게 소개시켜줬고
I introduced you to my friend without thinking twice about it
그런 만남이 있은후부터 우리는 자주 함께 만나며
After that encounter we simply got together a lot
즐거운 시간을 보내며 함께 어울렸던 것뿐인데
Having a good time and hanging out together
그런 만남이 어디부터 잘못됐는지 
But at what point did such encounters turn wrong?
난 알 수 없는 예감에 조금씩 빠져들고 있을 때쯤 
As I was slowly stepping into mysterious apprehension
넌 나보다 내 친구에게 관심을 더 보이며 
You were paying more attention to my friend than me and
날 조금씩 멀리하던
Slowly distancing me

그 어느날 너와 내가 심하게 다툰 그 날 이후로
Then on that day when you and I got into a big fight
너와 내 친구는 연락도 없고 날 피하는 것같아
You and my friend stopped calling and began avoiding me
그제서야 난 느낀거야 모든 것이 잘못돼 있는 걸
Then I finally realized that everything went wrong
너와 내 친구는 어느새 다정한 연인이 돼있었지.
You and my friend had already turned into lovers
있을 수 없는 일이라며 난 울었어
I cried, thinking how this could be
내 사랑과 우정을 모두 버려야 했기에
Because I had to lose both my love and friendship
또다른 내 친구는 내 어깰 두드리며 
Another friend of mine tapped on my shoulder
잊어버리라 했지만 잊지 못할것 같아
And told me to forget it all; but I don't think I can

너를 사랑했던 것만큼 내 친구도 믿었었기에
Because I trusted my friend as much as I loved you
난 자연스럽게 너와 함께 어울렸던 것뿐인데
I simply hung out naturally together with you but
어디부터 우리의 믿음이 깨지기 시작했는지
Since when did our trust begin to crack
난 알지 못한채 어색함을 느끼면서
I did not know; I kept feeling awkward
그렇게 함께 만나 온 시간이 길어지면 질수록
And the longer the time we spent hanging out like that
넌 내게서 조금씩 멀어지는 것을 느끼며 난 예감을 했었지
I felt you were slowly drifting away from me, and then I sensed it
 넌 나보다 내 친구에게 관심이 더 있었다는 걸
You were more interested in my friend than me

그 어느날 너와 내가 심하게 다툰 그 날 이후로
Then on that day when you and I got into a big fight
너와 내 친구는 연락도 없고 날 피하는 것같아
You and my friend stopped calling and began avoiding me
그제서야 난 느낀거야 모든 것이 잘못돼 있는 걸
Then I finally realized that everything went wrong
너와 내 친구는 어느새 다정한 연인이 돼있었지.
You and my friend had already turned into lovers
있을 수 없는 일이라며 난 울었어
I cried, thinking how this could be
내 사랑과 우정을 모두 버려야 했기에
Because I had to lose both my love and friendship
또다른 내 친구는 내 어깰 두드리며
Another friend of mine tapped on my shoulder
잊어버리라 했지만 잊지 못할것 같아
And told me to forget it all; but I don't think I can

In 15 words or less:  Korea's king of pop, the "National Singer".

Maybe he should be ranked higher because...   In the entire history of K-pop, his popularity is matched or exceeded by probably no more than three or four other artists.

Maybe he should be ranked lower because...  At the end of the day, what exactly did he achieve musically?

Why is this artist important?
Take any K-pop musician at his/her peak. Then imagine asking Korean people at the time how they feel about that musician. What would be the response? In most cases, a certain group of Korean people would love that artist, and other groups will not. Jo Seong-mo, for example, enjoyed a level of popularity that is matched by few others in Korean pop music history. Yet at the end of the day, his popularity was propelled mainly by women in their teens through 30s. Few in the history of K-pop transcend that level. Korean women who are older than mid-20s could care less about Girls' Generation. Even PSY, he of a billion Youtube hits, has his detractors in Korea.

For those shining few who rise above that bar and become beloved by the entire nation, Korean pop culture bestows a moniker:  국민가수, the "National Singer." Depending on whom you ask, there are only three to five "National Singers" in the history of K-pop. But no matter whom you ask, the name Kim Geon-mo will come up as the representative "National Singer". 

To be sure, one can nitpick on Kim Geon-mo until the cows come home. He never was much of a singer;   this lack of talent was painfully exposed in the first episode of the reality show I am Singer, in which Kim suffered the disgrace of becoming the first singer to be dropped from the show. He did not compose his greatest hits, and he never created music or lyrics of any depth. (The lyrics of The Wrong Encounter, Kim's greatest hit, is positively cringe-worthy in its juvenility.) In fact, the moment he began composing his own songs was the moment when his career began sliding downward. At the end of the day, he was not much more than a dancing entertainer, who scored high on likability.

Make that "scored astronomically on likability," actually. Measured strictly by popularity, Kim Geon-mo's three-year peak from 1993 to 1996 was probably greater than any three-year peak of any K-pop artist in history, save maybe two (whom we will discuss later in this series.) Kim's perceived lack of natural talent ended up becoming a plus for his likability, as the narrative of his career became that of an underdog--who was not particularly handsome nor musically talented--that nonetheless succeeded against all odds. In the mid 1990s, Kim Geon-mo ruled the K-pop world like virtually no one else did, because absolutely everyone loved him. Even Seo Taiji, who is on the short list of K-pop's Greatest of All Time, avoided releasing any album when Kim Geon-mo released an album. 

Although Kim himself did not possess any particular musical talent, his popularity itself would become his musical legacy. Because of Kim Geon-mo, various dance music genres--reggae, electro-pop, sanitized hiphop--would graduate from the state of being imported music to become Korea's own. Kim Geon-mo was the moment in which dance music would become K-pop's mainstream. 

Interesting trivia:  In college, Kim Geon-mo majored in traditional Korean music.

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

6 comments:

  1. "sanitized hiphop"
    Sir, you made me laugh...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice dancing tune! I actually enjoyed it. Best of the 90s. Definitely better than Oppan Gangham Style.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have just finished listening it for the 50th time. I guess it is going to be my song du jour!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wifeoseyo took me to a Kim Geon-mo concert early in our courtship. My Korean was crap at the time, so I understood about one in twenty of the words he said on stage, but was madly entertained the entire time, and even laughed at his jokes.

    I've always liked that whole "국민 모모" thing. It's fun to follow who's lovable by the granting of that nickname.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My favorite Korean artist of all time, hands down.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i really enjoyed this article,because this was me many years ago,and to a certain degree,this is who i am today
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