|1. You have been performing Gugak, or traditional Korean music, for about five years now, could you please tell us what got you interested in this genre and how you got started?|
Initially, traditional Korean music wasn’t something that I was attracted to or pulled towards. My parents had encouraged me to start learning it so I felt that I had a sense of obligation to do my best. As I began practicing, I began to become more curious about traditional music and now it has become my dream.
|2. Can you explain to our readers a little bit about traditional Korean music such as “Gugak” and “Pansori”?|
Gugak is a shortened term for traditional Korean music. With Gugak, there are several different categories such as Gyeonggi-minyo (traditional folk songs from the Gyeonggi-do region), Seodo-minyo (traditional folk songs from the northwestern area of the Korean peninsula), and Pansori (Korean opera). The kind of music that I perform is Gyeonggi-minyo. With Gyeonggi-minyo, if you take a famous Korean song like “Arirang”, the style would be to make it a bit more up-tempo and cheerful. Pansori on the other hand deals much more with dialogue and building a conversation.
|3. The singing style of Gyeonggi-minyo is very unique, how do you train and prepare your voice before a performance? Is it any different from how you would sing normally?|
I personally don’t think that preparing to sing in the Gyeonggi-minyo style is any different from how one would prepare to sing normally. I do not have any special ways to train my voice before a performance because it comes very naturally to me.
|4. You obviously have a lot of older fans who are quite fond of your music and may feel some nostalgia for the past, but what appeal do you think traditional Korean music has for your younger fans?|
Thank you. Even though I perform traditional music, I try to perform in such a way that makes it feel almost familiar or modern for younger audiences. Even with my hanbok (Korean traditional clothing), I like to give it a more modern twist to match with the times. The same goes with my makeup and hair. I try to make the entire Gugak experience more modern.
|5. Who are some traditional Korean singers that you respect and look up to? What kind of characteristics do you think you could learn from them?
Since I am somewhat of a new face on the scene, I’ve never really thought about traditional singers that I respect as of yet, but I can say that there are many outstanding performers. Though I want to make Gugak more modern, I still feel that I have a lot of basic things I can learn from other performers.
|6. You gained a great deal of attention after the KT Telecom commercial. How has your life changed since then?
After the commercial began airing, I began to become more recognized. People also seem to have become more interested in my performances and Gugak in general. They have also become more supportive and want to learn more about this traditional form of music.
|7. What do your friends and family think of your new found success?
I received a lot of support from my friends and family. They also have been able to see a new side of Gugak and respect it more. This kind of support has given me more personal strength.
|8. How do you manage to balance your life with a demanding work and school schedule? I can’t imagine it would be that easy at your age.
During exam periods, my parents adjust my performing schedule to accommodate my academic obligations. Instead of going to a specialized performing school, I attended an academic high school because my parents wanted me to be passionate about my education outside of performing as well. My school was also very supportive of my career obligations so I do not feel like I’ve lost out on my education like other young celebrities might have. Because most of my friends are people I have known for a long time, they are not starstruck when they see me or ask for autographs or things like that. Rather, they ask me to get autographs from other celebrities I might have had the chance to meet.
|9. Hallyu generally refers to modern Korean pop culture being exported overseas, but do you think it is important to create awareness of traditional Korean arts as well?
Yes, of course. With K-pop, musicians tend to have to go overseas to promote their music, but Gugak is a distinctly Korean. I feel that if Gugak gains traction in Korea, that it will naturally gain popularity overseas. I think that people in Korea having an interest in Gugak in order to gain recognition overseas is very important. I also feel that when I hold performances in foreign countries, non-Koreans seem to be more interested in traditional Korean music than native Koreans. For example, people in other countries seem to be very interested in Gayageum (a traditional Korean string instrument).
|10. Hallyu generally refers to modern Korean pop culture being exported overseas, but do you think it is important to create awareness of traditional Korean arts as well?
Gugak as a musical genre can feel a bit unfamiliar, people who are learning Gugak might feel nervous or face some hurdles. I feel that for those learning Gugak, having pride in one’s work is important. For me, I felt that I gained an immense pride in what I did around middle school and I believe Gugak is my destiny.
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