Monday, November 28, 2011

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 23. Shin Seung-Hoon

[Series Index]

23. Shin Seung-Hoon [신승훈]

Years of Activity: 1990-present

You, Reflected in a Smile [미소 속에 비친 그대] (1990)
Shin Seung Hun Vol. 2 (1992)
Shin Seung Hun Vol. 3 (1993)
For a Long Time Afterwards [그 후로 오랫동안] (1994)
Shin Seung Hun Vol. 5 (1996)
Feeling (1998)
Desire to Fly High (2000)
The Shin Seung Hun (2002)
Ninth Reply (2004)
The Romanticist (2009)

Representative Song:  Invisible Love [보이지 않는 사랑] from Shin Seung Hun Vol. 2.

보이지 않는 사랑
Invisible Love

사랑해선 안 될게 너무 많아
There are too many things I must not love
그래서 더욱 슬퍼지는 것같아
Perhaps that is why it is even sadder
그중에서 가장 슬픈 건
The saddest among all is
날 사랑하지 않는 그대
you who do not love me
내 곁에 있어달라는 말 하지 않았지
I never said be by my side
하지만 떠날 필요 없잖아
But you did not need to leave
보이지 않게 사랑할 거야
I will love you invisibly
너무 슬퍼 눈물 보이지만
Though I may show tears because of overwhelming sorrow

어제는 사랑을 오늘은 이별을
Yesterday, love; today, parting
미소짓는 얼굴로 울고 있었지
Crying with a smiling face
하지만 나 이렇게 슬프게 우는 건
But I cry so sadly like this
내일이면 찾아올 그리움 때문일꺼야
Because of the longing that will come tomorrow

Translation note:  It's not like the lyrics in Korean was the most sophisticated one in the world, but in English they sound terribly childish. Suggestions are welcome, as always.

In 15 words or less:  The king of ballad.

Maybe he should be ranked higher because...  His dominance over his genre was nearly unparalleled, particularly back in the 1990s when ballad was the mainstream music.

Maybe he should be ranked lower because...   Did he have any musical imprint in Korean pop music history?

Why is this artist important?
It is difficult to overstate how huge "ballad" was back in Korean of 1990s. At this point in time, many people believe that air-headed, bubble-gum "k-pop", represented Girls' Generation, Super Junior and the like, constitutes the entirety of Korean pop music. That notion is clearly a mistake, but it is an understandable mistake given that the presence of "k-pop" (in the smaller sense of the word) is so dominant over the airwaves. If the same people were exposed to Korean pop music in the 1990s, they would have thought that the morose and saccharine "ballads" were the only Korean pop music available.

Shin was the eye of the storm of the era. His public presence was rivaled by only a select few on this list. The 17 million copies of his album sold speak for themselves. Although Shin never truly attempted anything artistically daring, he deserves a spot here as a true exemplar of K-pop's zeitgeist.

Interesting trivia:  Shin holds a second degree black belt in kung fu.

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


  1. 신승훈 was (apparently) the first pop singer I've ever liked. I don't remember clearly, but my mom told me that I loved to listen to 보이지 않는 사랑 over and over when I was a kid.

    He also does a lot of mentoring/composing for some of the modern ballad singers, right?

  2. Why is he singing in German at the beginning at the song?

    Ich liebe dich so wie du bist,
    am Abend und am Morgen.
    --> I love you the way you are, in the evening and in the morning.

    Just curious.. ^-^

    1. He incorporates the famous Beethoven piece, "I love you," which is actually the first 'fusion' of kpop and classical music ever attempted.

  3. @Hoshi, I don't think that's him singing German... unless he's making his voice sounds way different on purpose?

    Anyway, I LOVE Shin Seung Hoon! Swoon. Loved the theme song of My Sassy Girl too, I believe.

  4. @Hoshi: I don't know who's singing, but I do know that the song that's being sung, Zärtliche Liebe (Tender Love) came from a poem written by Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Herrosee, a writer/pastor, and the melody was written by Beethoven.

    Refer to this link.

  5. @Hoshi: Definitely singing in German... The lines you wrote are right.

    And if I'm not mistaken this is the very song and reason, why a lot of Korean (even though they have no clue about German) still know these words: "Ich liebe dich".

    Had an encounter with SS501's Jungmin in 2010. When I met him and told him I'm from Germany he repeated these words for a view times, trying to get the pronunciation, right. Very cool! Loved him for this cute gesture!!!

  6. I know it's not right....but do you have the link where I can download this song? I wanna play it over and over while driving. :)

  7. I love Shin Seung Hun! :D

  8. My Sassy GIrl OST - I Believe as well :)

  9. OMG, i've been looking for this song! i was in korea in 1992 & always listen to this. didn't really understand the song then, but loved the melody. forgotten title of song, but i remember it has "ich liebe dich" on it, so googled & found it here. thanks Mr. Korean.


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