Sunday, October 24, 2010

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 44. Yoon Do-Hyeon

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[Series Index]

44.  Yoon Do-Hyeon (also spelled Yoon Do-Hyun) [윤도현]

Years of Activity:  1994-present

Regular Albums (as leader of the Yoon Do-Hyeon Band)
In Front of the Autumn Post Office [가을 우체국 앞에서] (1994)
Yoon Do-Hyeon 2 [윤도현 2] (1997)
Marginalization [소외] (1998)
Re-Singing Korean Rock [한국 Rock 다시 부르기] (1999)
An Urbanite (2001)
YB Stream 6 (2003)
Why Be? (2006)
Coexistence (2009)

Special Albums and Notable Singles
Official Album of Red Devils Cheering Songs 2002 [붉은 악마 공식 응원가 앨범 2002] (2002) (contributed Arirang)
Standing on the Road - Yoon Do-Hyeon Band Photo Essay [길위에 서다 - 윤도현밴드 포토 에세이] (2005)
2006 YB World Cup Cheering Songs [2006 YB 월드컵 응원가] (2006)
Korean Peninsula Original Soundtrack [한반도 OST] (2006)

Representative Song:
  Someday [먼훗날], from Marginalization


널 이젠 잊겠어 
I will now forget you
내 깊은 그리움으로 이밤을 지새운건 아니었는데
I did not spend this night longing deeply for you
이제는 닦아 낼 눈물이 없어
But I have no more tear to wipe
하고픈 말 서럽게 쌓여만 가고
The words I want to say only piles on sadly

기억되는 그리움의 아픔이 너무 두려워
So afraid of the remembered pain of longing
홀로 남겨진 이 순간 원할건 없지만
This moment, left alone, although I have nothing more to want

정말 널 사랑해
I really love you, 
차마 그말 한마디 못한 내가 너무나도 원망스러워
I blame myself for not being able to say just that one word
먼훗날 다시 널 우연히 마주칠수 있다면
Someday if by chance I may see you again
사랑했다 말할거야
I will tell you, I loved you.

Translation note: Truly well-done poetry in Korean -- which uses all possible angles of ambiguities that Korean language allows -- is darn near impossible to translate elegantly. This is one such occasion. Suggestions are welcome.

In 15 words or less:  The rightful heir of Korean rock, evaluator of true talent.

Maybe he should be ranked higher because...  The game-changing nature of his TV show (described below) is easy to underestimate.

Maybe they should be ranked lower because...  If he is ranked for not-strictly-musical influence, shouldn't Lee Su-Man (of the SM music group) be ranked higher than him?

Why is this artist important?
Among the followers of Korea's rock scene, this placement might feel high -- because just in terms of musical quality, one can make a strong case that Yoon Do-Hyeon is not particularly special. But it is Yoon's period of activity that makes him particularly influential. In terms of relative influence, the nadir of Korean rock was late 1990s through early 2000s. The airwaves were utterly dominated by boy/girl bands, and it appeared that rock was being driven to the brink of extinction. Yoon Do-Hyeon Band was one of the few bands that stuck it out during those dark times, trudging along while churning out quality albums.

Rock made an unexpected comeback in 2002, and Yoon was at the heart of revival. Yoon's band was one of the bands that wrote some of the most popular songs for Korean national soccer team playing in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It is not an exaggeration that Yoon Do-Hyeon Band, along with one other rock band (to be introduced in this ranking later) led the renaissance of Korean rock that is resonating to this day.

This is already a substantial achievement, but Yoon's influence on K-pop scene was arguably greater in his other activity -- playing host of the TV show, Yoon Do-Hyeon's Love Letter, from 2002 to 2008. Love Letter was a music-focused late night show, in which singers interspersed serious yet entertaining dialogue with the host with real, live performances. The show's effect on the K-pop scene should not be underestimated. When other music-related TV shows were slowly turning into various levels of insults to intelligence, Love Letter was rigorous about the choice of real, talented artists to feature, and strict about the requirement to perform live. Much of that rigor was driven by Yoon's personal force, as an intelligent artist who always cared about the quality of pop music in Korea. Yoon's energetic and witty personality was an indispensable ingredient that allowed the show to go on strong for seven years, acting as a litmus test that showed who was real, and who was produced.

Interesting trivia:  Although never confirmed, it was widely suspected that Yoon quit Love Letter because of the pressure applied by Korea's current conservative administration, as Yoon was an active voice of Korea's liberals.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. :D I was hoping that he would make it on the list. His band was the first non-generic pop music I listened to (other than Lee Juck and Panic), and his show introduced me to Crying Nut, No Brain, Cherry Filter, Lazybone, Jaurim, Hot Potato, Pia, Super Kidd, Loveholic... the list goes on. Even Leessang, Tiger JK, Bobby Kim, and other hiphop figures, I first heard them on his show.

    I personally love his "rock version" of 'Peppermint Candy' and "A Bus to Heaven". Pity he's more or less ostracized by the public media now... I heard that playing 'No Regrets' at ex-President 노무현's funeral was the last straw.

  2. I wouldn't say that his actual musical style was influential, but that he was making rock music and that he was popular in a sea of dancing idol groups is a pretty big deal. And even if his band's music wasn't particularly unique, I liked it all the same. Definitely agree with you on the appeal and influence of his music show.

    Anyone want to guess at the other early 2000's rock band that the Korean was hinting at? I have my ideas, but I'd like to hear what everyone thinks.

  3. Truly a man of talent.

    My guess at the other influential rock band is N.Ex.T.

  4. My guess would be 들국화 or just 전인권 himself. Or N.EX.T/신해철. Or maybe Crying Nut?

  5. swoon. LOVE his songs... and i hear he has a nice rear end to boot.


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