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Posted May. 31, 2006 03:00,   


In March, 2006, four men gathered at a pub in Seoul. Memories of one man hovered over their cups of soju. Three men remembered their twenties spent with him, and the other man remembered the days of childhood when he listened to his music and dreamed of becoming a musician.

They cherish memories of sharing a cup of soju with him, a melody of his song lingering in their ears. They listened to “Past Days” from an old LP and looked at “A Reflection of Me on My Heart” waiting for a “Gloomy Letter” from him. Yoo Jae-ha was the man they missed deeply.

In June, 2006, Kim Gwang-min, Yoo’s music companion and pianist, Jeong Won-yeong from the “Jeong Won-yeong Band,” Han Bong-geun, who studied in the Department of Musical Composition in Hanyang University like Yoo, and Yoo Hui-yeol from “Toy,” who won the top prize in the Fourth Yoo Jae-ha Music Contest, gathered to perform a joint concert titled “Beautiful Memories.” This concert was organized to raise funds for the Yoo Jae-ha Music Concert, which had been held for 16 years from 1989 to 2004 and was cancelled last year due to financial circumstances. Park Jeong-hyeon and “Ja Wu Rim” will be on stage as guest singers on June 6 and 7 respectively.

The following are “memories of Yoo Jae-ha” from the four men busy preparing for the concert to be held at the Grand Theater of Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m., June 6 and 7.

Jeong Won-yeong –

“Jae-ha, two-years younger than I, attended the same elementary and middle school with me. He always came to my house after school, and we talked about the Beatles and Queen. After Jae-ha entered college, I used to visit him at college festivals. He played guitar and I played piano at the festivals.”

Kim Gwang-min –

“My beautiful memory of him is associated with alcohol. One day, we started drinking alcohol at 5:00 p.m. at a pub in Bangbae-dong. When we looked at the clock as people were coming in, it was 7:00 a.m. So I thought it was time to leave and checked the time again. It was noon. I ran away, thinking ‘this is too much.’”

They knew each other too well. When Yoo Jae-ha passed away after a car accident on Nov. 1, 1987, Kim, who was studying in the U.S., composed a song titled “A Letter from the Earth” in memory of him. Han Bong-geun, who worked together with Yoo for his first CD, lost words after saying, “He just started…”

Yoo Hui-yeol –

“I decided to pursue the career of musician as I listened to his music. He always inspired me. I’m excited when I, as one of the jurors for the Yoo Jae-ha Music Contest, see talented musicians dream of becoming ‘the second Yoo Jae-ha.’”

Cho Gyu-chan (1st), Ko Chan-yong (2nd), Yoo Hui-yeol (4th), and Lee Han-cheol (4th), were all discovered in the Yoo Jae-ha Music Contest, which began in 1989. This contest, which had been held based on a fund given by Yoo Jae-ha’s father who passed away in 1989, had financial difficulties and was finally cancelled last year.

Han Bong-geun –

“Jae-ha’s debut album has sold one million copies so far, but the profits are gone. Con men sneaked around his name. Nothing has been planned for next year’s twentieth anniversary.”

Jeong Won-yeong –

“There is only one reason Jae-ha’s music is still appreciated twenty years after he died. He made the first pop album in the Korean pop music world Trot and dance music was dominating. Jae-ha raised the level of Korean pop music one notch up. But these days, there are few singer-songwriters with the beautiful music sense Jae-ha had. Young singers are only trying to become ‘entertainers.’”

June 6, the first day of the concert, was Yoo Jae-ha’s birthday. Han said, “It is strange timing. We didn’t plan it.”

Yoo Jae-ha is still alive in their hearts and music.