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Who Are You?

Posted November. 10, 2006 07:07,   

한국어

The ‘pariahs’ have gathered in one spot. They are Kim Hyung-tae (41), Sung Gi-wan (39), and Park Min-gyu (38). They have gathered for the concert to be held at Catchlight, a club in front of Hongik University, Seoul on November 23. They intend to “play with the excuse of celebrating” Park’s novel ‘Ping Pong’. Like the main character in ‘Ping Pong’, the three announce themselves as “the outcasts of the world.”

We met them on November 7 in Kim’s studio in front of Hongik University. At Kim’s words, “we have to get our performance together…,” Sung responded, “Really? Do we have to?”. Park said, “It’ll be kept private until then.”. They are unpredictable.

The phrase ‘no rules, cross-cutting artists’ is apt. Kim, the leader of ‘Hwang Shin-hae Band’, is an artist that held personal exhibitions several times, and also published two essay collections. Sung is a guitarist of the indi band ‘Butterfly of Line 3’, a poet, and a pop music critic. Park, who confessed that “I’m an amateur guitarist and this is my debut,”, is famous for being a guitar mania in the literati circle.

“When someone publishes a book, they would hold autograph sessions, reading sessions, and meetings with the author. If we show something else, the readers can feel more enthusiastic and closer to the book. We decided to hold the concert to show that the author can do things other than write and talk.” (Kim Hyung-tae)

It has been eight years since the three first met. “We can’t be comfortable in our respective areas when we’re together. Hyung-tae studied art but doesn’t want to be solely an artist, and I write poetry but also do other stuff. Min-gyu wrote a caustic criticism titled ‘Jokara, Maishingida!’ (criticism of the Korean literati). We all hate being authoritative.”(Sung Gi-wan)

They began playing because they “didn’t want to be ignorant of everything except their field”. They agreed that “we are happy because we don’t feel like we should be judged for our artistry when playing music.”

“I’m only going to write until age 60, and then I’m going to play guitars. Sort of like a ‘guitarist and former writer’. If I can’t write when I grow older, wouldn’t I be a ‘former writer’?” (Park)

When we were about to question, “What is the relationship between text and popular music…” all three waved their hands. “We are not combining genres. Playing the guitar, writing, they are all art. We hope people won’t say, ‘that singer published a book’ or ‘that poet can play the guitar’. The ‘no rules, cross-cutting artists’ that can write, draw, and take photos are on the rise. The ‘30 years in one field’ type of persona isn’t popular anymore.” (Kim)

“When I went to Europe this summer, people were playing guitars on the streets. They weren’t even that good (laugh). That’s when we thought, write novels as much as you want, and play guitars as much as you want.”

Park said,“we agreed to go up the stage without worrying if we might bomb it,” but added, “I’m worried that our knees would shake.”

Sung said, “Some say ‘you’re doing that because you have a lot of talent’. I want to say this to them. We grew up hearing ‘you have to follow this path’, and ‘Korea should become this’. But the three of us got together by asking ‘Is that really all there is to it?’ It was the result of a long hesitation.”

The concert will also feature the guitarist Shin Yoon-chul and the Seoul Electronic Band. One thousand readers that purchase the novel ‘Ping Pong’ from the internet book stores Kyobo, Yes24, and Aladdin can receive the admission tickets. For more information call 031-955-3326.



kimjy@donga.com