More Shin Hae Chul (신해철) and Next Songs - As Life Comes to An End Before Us (우리 앞의 생이 끝나갈 때), Fly, Little Chick (날아라 병아리)

little chick

Shin Hae Chul (신해철, 1968-2014) was one of the rare breed of singers who stuck to songs of contemplation rather than the usual love and relationship fare. Here are two more of such songs of soul searching. As Life Draws to An End Before Us (우리 앞의 생이 끝나갈 때) is a musing on his younger days and the dreams he cherished at the time, as well as alament on how the changing times and forces of the world throw him astray and make him lose his own self. It clearly shows what was the driving concern in his life and work. Fly, Little Chick (날아라 병아리) is an interesting little number about a boy’s friendship with a little chick. It looks back on a little creature which, despite having little to show for itself, gave him a profound realization on life and friendship.

Ki Hyeong Do's Sad Call To His Sister - Forsythia My Forsythia (나리 나리 개나리)

Mountain Verdure

The poet Ki Hyeong Do (기형도, 1960-1989) was traumatized by his sister’s tragic death. It seems he had had a special rapport with her while growing up in a family plagued by the illness of his father. His sister may have been the bright spot for him, a nice companion whom he could converse with and confide in about his various concerns during his impressionable years. Having her murdered in cold blood one day has left him reeling with not only a bottomless sadness but an acute guilt as well. *Forsythia My Forsythia (나리 나리 개나리) is a work that lays bare this extraordinarily sad and remorseful sentiment that dogged him ever since that horrific incident. The outpouring of anguished sadness and guilt is truly heartbreaking.

Shin Hae Chul (신해철) - Songs of Hope and Affirmation

Man on The Road

Shin Hae Chul (신해철, 1968-2014) was a versatile and popular rock musician who has written and performed numerous songs as a solo artist as well as with such bands of his as Next. He was surely a one-of-a-kind artist who had a keen interest in social issues apart from his music. First and foremost a rock musician, he also dabbled in many other mainstream and experimental genres of music. Writing all the lyrics and music himself, he was an energetic musician constantly endeavoring to one-up himself, always willing to lend a hand as a mentor or as a friend to peer artists and proteges, and ready to speak out about various political and social matters. To the dismay of his fans, he fell victim to a medical malpractice and died in October, 2014.

Love Songs By Pinocchio - My Love Is (내 사랑은) and With The Passing of Time (시간이 흐른 뒤에)

Mountain Verdure

Pinocchio (피노키오) is a pop rock band from the 90s who scored several hits with their youthful love ballads. Their songs typically featured a fresh sounding lead vocal, emotional lyrics and attractive tunes singing about love and relationships. My Love Is (내사랑은) and With the Passing of Time (세월이 흐른 뒤에) are not their biggest hits yet demonstrate their musical style rather nicely. The two songs are quite different in character. The former is a warm, heartfelt hymn to love, an ode full of praises for the world that brought about the protagonist’s love. The latter is about the pain of a breakup, a strikingly poignant tale of anguish the narrator experiences following a breakup he had no choice but to swallow. They showcase love in its two extreme manifestations.

More Yoon Sang - A Trite Love Song In The End (결국 흔해 빠진 사랑 얘기) and Betrayal (배반)

Yoon Sang Cliche

A Trite Love Song In The End (결국 흔해 빠진 사랑 얘기) and Betrayal (배반) are from Yoon Sang’s third album released in 2000 after a period of hiatus. Featuring lyrics by the lyricist Park Chang Hak (박창학), they brim with subtle touches of a seasoned musician who has reached the height of his musical sensitivity. Yoon-Park collaboration aims to satisfy the most discerning tastes and hardly ever produces subpar, throwaway fillers, giving the listeners a real treat every time. While some of the songs may lack mass appeal precisely because of the highly elevated sensitivities, their oeuvres for sure make up one-of-a-kind line of music with artistry rarely duplicated elsewhere.

Yoon Sang (윤상)'s High Brow Jazz Pop - Shadow of A Goodbye (이별의 그늘) and In The Obscure of Time (가려진 시간 사이로)

Yoon Sang 1

Shadow of A Goodbye (이별의 그늘) and In The Obscure of Time (가려진 시간 사이로) are two gems of songs by Yoon Sang (윤상), a remarkable composer in the jazz pop genres. Released in early 90s on the cusp of his solo career launch, they boast such high tastes that they sound as fresh as any song that comes out today well over 20 years later. They also had the mass appeal and did very well in the market, establishing the singer songwriter as one of the top billed acts before he eventually started pursuing more experimental genres of music. In addition to the refined tunes and arrangements, his songs typically feature top notch lyrics by the lyricist Park Joo Yeon (박주연) and Park Chang Hak (박창학), resulting in a tour de force of music rarely seen before or since.

More Children's Songs - Thinking of Older Brother (오빠 생각) and An Isle Home Baby (섬집 아기)

Thinking of Older Brother 1

Thinking of Older Brother (오빠 생각) and an Isle Home Baby (섬집 아기) are sparkling gems of Korean children’s songs. They feature those universally loved qualities we find in the hearts of children as they set out on their journey in this world . They have the innocence and purity of heart we once had before the endlessly complex forces of life have shaped each of us into another ambivalent, mottled being that we can no longer marvel at. Perennially popular, these beautiful songs are there to give the children unsullied wholesome fun in their formative years, creating a warm, fuzzy corner in their young hearts which will serve as a source of nostalgic longing they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

What Is Your Strength? Ki Hyung Do (기형도)'s Last Scream - Jealousy Is My Strength (질투는 나의 힘)

Mountain Verdure

Jealousy Is My Strength (질투는 나의 힘) is one of Ki Hyung Do (기형도)’s most widely known poems. Although it is not his last work, it does have the tone of summing up one’s life, looking back and taking stock of his journey so far. He blurts out what comes off like a final assessment of his life, in blunt words with an air of mock declaration. His conclusion is rather glum and no hint of redemption is offered. The brutal honesty is painful. Despite, or perhaps because of this, the poem is starkly compelling. While the reader does not know how such an intense self-doubt came to be, one feels the all too real anguish, in which one might see an inkling of himself. It is an existential poem of desperation that make the reader somberly search for answers in his own soul.

Metal Ballads - A Lyrical Song of the Deep Night (깊은 밤의 서정곡), A Sleepless Yearning (잠들지 않는 그리움)

Mountain Verdure

A Lyrical Song of The Deep Night (깊은 밤의 서정곡) and A Sleepless Yearning (잠들지 않는 그리움) are heavy metal ballads by the band Black Hole (블랙홀), one of the accomplished metal bands that arose in the 80s. Whereas typical metal songs relied on hard driving, fast paced guitar and base lines while flaunting a mysticism theme, these songs are on the slow side of heavy metal, opting for quiet and deep introspection than loud outward expressions. They sing of solitude and isolation, the cruel and indifferent face of time, love and the irony of fate that keep the forever yearning beings separated. With the mystery tinged brooding mood and high pitched screams typical of heavy metal, they bring on a listening experience altogether their own.

That Unforgettable Time and Place of Your Life - Boulder Pass (바위고개) and Before That House (그 집앞)

Bouldre Pass 1

Boulder Pass (바위고개) and Before That House (그 집앞) from the 1930s and 40s are songs about remembrance and nostalgia. We are each a being that remembers, living a life defined foremost by time and place, with all major events recorded in our brains, building up one’s unique world over the course of life. And thus comes the poignant, heart tugging nostalgia, the desire to go back, to relive the time that exists only in our heads. Many songs are about this almost reflexive yearning for the past, for someone you had to part with, some place you loved dearly but had to leave behind, and so on. Of these, a yearning for your loved one would be the most precious of all, and these songs depict such a sentiment in the most beautiful way one can imagine.

Kim Hyun Sik Ballads - Making Memories (추억 만들기) and Wintry Sea (겨울 바다)

Wintry Sea 1

Kim Hyun Sik kept producing melancholic, emotion drenched songs throughout the 80s, spanning from pop ballads to rock and blues. While maturing musically on one hand his health was waning owing to the vices of his life style. His sixth LP album turned out to be his last of original songs,released a few months after his death in November, 1990. The best remembered song of his entire career is probably My Love By My Side (내 사랑 내 곁에) on this album, but it also featured other fantastic songs such as these too. They show uncanny abilities of a seasoned musician at the height of his trade, showing great vocal prowess and near perfect interpretation abilities.

Yoo Jae Ha (유재하)'s Because I Love You (사랑하기 때문에), The Obscured Road (가리워진 길)

Mountain Verdure

Yoo Jae ha (유재하, 1962-1987) was an extremely talented musician of the 80s who fell short of realizing his great potential owing to a tragic traffic accident that took his life prematurely. With both an innate passion and academic training in music, he displayed a remarkable songwriting ability as well as a mastery of multiple instruments. Playing in Cho Yong Pil (조용필)’s band while writing songs for other artists at a young age, he was on course to becoming a full-blown, successful artist. His first album, which came out in 1987, was notable in many ways. It had his own unique ballad style, was written, performed, and produced almost single handedly with all the instruments played and overlaid by him. It was a feat hardly ever seen before or since Yoo.

Hwang Sun Won (황순원)'s The Shower (소나기) - A Poignant Story of A Fledgling Love Gone Tragic

Boy and Girl

The Shower (소나기), a short story written by the acclaimed author Hwang Sun Won (황순원, 1915-2000) in 1953, may be the most heart tugging tale ever touched the Korean hearts. It comes down to the most innocent and pristine part of the human heart as it involves a boy and a girl at a tender young age, love which is the most precious of all human emotions, and the irony of fate which most of us, if not personally encountered, at least witness at one time or another in our lives. It is one of the shortest of the short stories, almost like a children’s fairy tale, yet touches our heart so deeply by its poignancy that only those with a heart of steel would not be moved by it.

More Boohwal (부활) - The More I Love You (사랑할수록) and The Shower (소나기)

Mountain Verdure

After a resounding success in the late 80s, Boohwal had another glory period in the early 90s with the new singer Kim Jae Gi (김재기, 1968-1993). The more I Love You (사랑할수록) and The Shower (소나기) are from their third album released in 1993, featuring Kim Tae Won compositions as usual and the lead vocals of the new singer Kim Jae Gi’s. Kim jae Gi had a remarkably smooth style with good range and control to boot. These two songs remain the greatest work by him, who tragically lost his life in an automobile accident shortly after recording them. He is fondly remembered by rock fans, and the album Boohwal 3 remains among the top few albums in Korean rock history.

Boohwal (부활) - Korean Classic Rock with Grand Style

Forest Stream

Boohwal (부활, “Born Again”) is a top rated Korean rock band who has played their own brand of grand style rock with a sad, ponderous mood. Leader Kim Tae Won (김태원, 1965-) writes and styles most of their original songs, which are unique for their fluid, slow moving rock ballads which evoke poetic sadness. Reminiscence 1 (회상) and A Sad Deer (슬픈 사슴) are on their second album released in 1987 with then singer Lee Seung Chul (이승철, 1966-), from the first of their glory periods. Kim’s songwriting prowess and Lee’s emotion drenched vocals came together to create a spellbinding music which put them at the top of the Korean rock scene with a big fan base.

More of Chamomile (들국화) and Jeon In Gwon (전인권)) - Have No Worries My Dear (걱정말아요 그대), Round and Round and Round (돌고 돌고 돌고)

Mountain Verdure

Chamomile (들국화)’s Jeon In Gwon (전인권), the driving force of the band, produced several unforgettable songs of his own in his long career. Have No Worries My Dear on Chamomile 4 of 2013 and Round and Round and Round of 1988 on Jeon IN Gwon 3 are among his most memorable works. They are songs about life, or rather a particular take on this journey called life that all of us have to grapple with. Have No Worries (걱정 말아요 그대) touches the heart of those who feel down and out, that it would not be all that bad when time does its work and you look back on it. Round and Round and Round (돌고 돌고 돌고) looks on the vicissitudes of life with a sympathetic eyes, all the players, happenings, and even the earth itself that go keep going round and round.

Chamomile (들국화) - Classic Rock of the 80s - That Alone Is My World (그것만이 내 세상) and Please (제발)

Mountain Verdure

That Alone Is My World (그것만이 내 세상) and Please (제발) are from the rock band Chamomile (들국화)’s first LP album released in 1985. Chamomile came onto the scene as a fledgling ragged indie band, yet has since steadily gathered loyal fans to become one of the best loved bands of Korean classic rock. As these songs show, they eschew flourishes in their music, going for a direct, no nonsense delivery of stark, heartfelt sentiment through the gruff and high pitched voice of the leader Jeon In Gwon (전인권). Their aloof and seemingly non-commercial style as well as bluntly naked artistic expressions seem to push buttons with the listeners, as attested by their lofty status three decades later.

Lee Moon Sae 4 - Where The Night Stays (밤이 머무는 곳에) and Only The Sound of Her Laughter (그녀의 웃음소리뿐)

Mountain Verdure

These two songs are the Lee Young Hoon-Lee Moon Sae collaboration’s fourth LP album released in 1987, probably their greatest work, which have sold phenomenally breaking all records. Together with Lee Moon 5 that came out the following year, this album etched the two artists’ names indelibly in the history of Korean pop music, ranking at 16th of the all time greatest list. Both are love songs in the pop and rock genre with slick and boast refined composition that don’t sound dated even to this day, as well as nicely complementing lyrics evoking a dreamy and nostalgic mood for the listener. it is one work that upped the state of the art of the Korean pop music.

More Shinchon Blues - Twilight (황혼), A Woman Standing in The Rain (빗속에 서있는 여자), The Last Blues (마지막 블루스)


These are songs sung by Shinchon Blues (신촌블루스)’s guest singers, or transient members, who perform on some projects with their regular members. Chung Seo Yong (정서용)’s Twilight (황혼) and A Woman Standing in The Rain (빗속에 서있는 여자) are from their second LP album, evoking a picture of a dreary citiscape and the lonely souls in it. Chung Kyung Hwa (정경화)’s The Last Blues (마지막 블루스), from Shinchon Blues III of 1990 is another poignant number about a woman who is parting with her love interest while a blues music is playing in the background. All three songs carry on the fine line of blues music with their sadness drenched lyrics and vocals.

Korean Blues - Boulevards Without You (그대 없는 거리) and Regrets (아쉬움) by Shinchon Blues (신촌블루스)

Night Street

Shinchon Blues came about in the 80s starting from a gathering of musicians who flocked together for the love of music. They regularly got together to play music in a well known live music cafe in Shinchon, a district of Seoul known as a trend setter, sharing a passion for the blues which was a genre not all that well developed or liked at the time. They hit it off playing their talents off each other as any such young gathering of artists would have. They released several fine albums in the late 80s and the 90s, and eventually become a synonym for blues in Korea, performing fine blues songs of their own style ever since.

More Nochatsa - Prayer (기도), The Land (산하), Ocean, The Ocean (바다여, 바다여)

Woman Praying

These are songs from Nochatsa (Seeker of Songs)’s first album, Nochatsa 1. They are unassuming, purist artistically, and not even particularly ambitious sounding yet surprisingly good for what they are. Their beauty is in the sparkling lyrics and the delicate, quietly moving melodies delivered in pristine young voices. One feels that they are works of art solely for the sake of art, free from the ulterior motives that often muddies the waters. Created by students who have not yet gotten an exposure to the murky currents of the society and industry, they stand for the purest and loftiest quest for beauty.

Seekers of Songs (노찾사) in the 80s - The Home I Cannot Return To (갈 수 없는 고향) and The Wind Whooshing (바람 씽씽)

Mountain Verdure

Seekers of Songs (노찾사 - Nochatsa) was a group of college students who got together for the love of music in the early 1980s. Students from a few different colleges came together to share ideas as well as write and perform their own music. With youthful enthusiasm and passion for music, they created enough material to release as a full LP album by 1984. Thus came the first batch of Nochatsa songs which included these two among many other beautiful works. Their songs had the unadulterated passion and idealism characteristic of the young minds, as well as an unquenchable longing for social changes. They followed it with three more original albums, becoming probably the most famous student act in Korean history.

An Anguished Outcry - Ki Hyeong Do's Advice from A Bus Stop (정거장에서의 충고)

Mountain Verdure

Some Ki Hyeong Do (기형도) poems are about the agony he felt grappling with the world and his direction in life. Advice From A Bus Stop (정거장에서의 충고) is one such work. It is about the struggles going on in his mind over his chosen path in life, the constantly nagging suspicion that he is not good, and that the whole literature and poetry that has been his passion might be futile and meaningless, in a language that is direct and honest. It comes off like an anguish that consumes his whole being, a struggle verging on a pathology, and mysterious as well since we do not know the cause of it.

The Eternal Yearning for The Old Home - Homeplace (고향) and Song of The Old Home (고향의 노래)

Snow Trail

Songs and poems about one’s old home is one strong thread in Korean literature and music. There are countless songs about one’s homeplace and the family and friends there in the art song genre alone, of which these two are prime examples. Homeplace (고향) is out of the ordinary in its brooding, pensive mood arising from an alienation one feels on returning to one’s home. Song of The Old Home (고향의 노래) is one that is exuberant and joyous, as typical of songs remembering the good old days at one’s home. While they may be different in character, both are breathtaking and soul cleansing in their wholesome, unadulterated beauty.