Even Though I Loved You (사랑했지만) and With The Thought That I Must Forget You (잊어야 한다는 마음으로) are songs released by Kim Kwang Seok (김광석, 1964-1996). About parting with one’s love interest, they are emotionally charged confessions of desperation. Kim’s songs are typically love poems like these two songs, delivered with an acoustic guitar backing and singing the purest of human sentiments arising from the deep recesses of our heart. He is remembered for many of his beautifully lyrical songs after his life came to a tragic end in 1996.
Even Though I Loved You
잊어야 한다는 마음으로
With The Thought That I Must Forget You
Kim Kwang Seok was one of the renowned singers of the 80s and 90s in the genre of straight folk and folk rock. He had made quite a name with a loyal fan base by the time his career was cut short, through his quietly moving songs and the many live performances he was known for. Together with Kim Hyun Sik and Lee Moon Sae he was one of the big three of solo singers of the 80s and 90s who left a lasting mark through high quality songs and orthodox singing.
Kim was known for lyrical songs that relate stark, unemblished sentiments in poetic languages. According to friends and acquaintances, a possessor of a warm heart and upright personality, he seemed to approach his music and business like a perennial upstart, with youthful honesty and innocent passion. Lacking the slick facade that some entertainers hide behind, his tender and uncompromising personality showed through in some of his live show monologues as well as songs that dealt with personal thoughts. After having considerable success anyone would envy, he took his own life in rather murky circumstances, giving rise to conjectures and theories after his death.
Even Though I Loved You is a quintessential romantic love song, albeit the sad kind singing of parting against one’s will, with a melody that is beautifully sweet and soothing.
This type of songs about parting forced on you or resignation in the face of such fate seem to proliferate in Korea compared with the western world - there are innumerable such songs in any time period. This defeatist attitude if you will probably doesn’t easily resonate in the western mind - one might say why the loser attitude when you should give it another shot to change your lot. However, in Korean, and more broadly in the Asian culture, love isn’t always such a simple one dimensional thing that you can approach with a logical and forward thinking mindset. It seems in the east, these insurmountable forces around you, your fate or karma as they say, manifest itself much more readily than in the west.
With The Thought That I Must Forget You is another one in the same vein, only more heart breaking if anything. Its detailed depiction of the day the narrator I goes through is sad enough to bring tears to your eyes. He stares at the ceiling and sees her face, tears rolling down, pines through the entire night without sleep, and sees the indifferent dawn arriving as if everything was the same. Some may find it maudlin, but if you have had an experience even remotely similar, you would know the anguish that is sung about here. Maybe it is because Kim was such a tender soul who found it hard to navigate this world that he sang so much about parting and losses instead of happy endings. Some of his songs are truly tearing at your heart.
After his passing, many of Kim’s songs have been remade by friends and successors, and several tribute albums and concerts were dedicated in memory of him. His was another of the sad stories that seemed to break with no end in the 90s.