KOREAN S/SW / FOLK / CROSSOVERS
reissues

Kim Min Gi

6CD box (1995)









Hakchon/YBM/Seoul Rec. Kim Min Gi : ...That Beautiful One Is a Human Being.. (KO,1971-1987,2004)****°
eventual airplay : CD1: 1,(3),4,5,9 ; CD2:1-2,4,12-13 ; CD4 : 1,4,5,6,8 ; CD5:(2)3,9-10 ; CD6: (1),3
second check: CD1 1,4,5,9 ; CD2 1,2,4,13 ; CD3: 4,5,6,9 ; CD4 1,2,4,5,6,8 ; CD5 : 3,4 ; CD6 : 10

All the works of Kim Min-Gi were compiled onto this beautifully crafted heavy LP-sized box with 3D imprints on special paper, containing two booklets with Korean info and lyrics, both in unusual formats (LP-format and a long sleeve insert). The box alone is impressive, but the music is also worth checking out.  When the singer released an album in 1971, mostly guitar and voice only with sparse arrangements, his words were so powerful, the Park Chung-Gee regime took his album from the market and destroyed what was left. Although his words were metaphorical and highly poetic, a kind of writing that wouldn’t even be understood here in the West, in Korea they were as clear as statements.  He continued to write for others like Yang Hee-Eun, The song “Morning Dew” however could not even be covered any more. It became a symbol of awareness of the oppression and predated the steps towards a renewed system of democracy. Another song, called “Morning Dew”, was about two fishes in a pond. When one fish died it spoiled the pond, an allegory for the split country. This song became popular in North Korea revealing a secret inner wish for change, it took a while before the government understood the impact, until they also banned it there in 1998. For Kim Min Gi it took also until 1993 (!) until he could release his work again. Almost having given up music, having worked on a farm for a while, Kim Min Gi from then on started to cooperate heavily with theatre, creating several sorts of musicals, some music appeared in some movies too.

Several CD’s reveal the songwriter with guitar and sparse arrangements, with a deep warm and penetrating voice. Elsewhere are the references to the musicals, often sung by children, with beautiful vocal harmonies and sensibilities, also with here and there a Korean folk reference that is worth taking out. A few tracks are played with keyboards.

I assume that the first CD (of 10 tracks) contains the early LP. This is the first songwriting album. Here and there are sensible rhythms, I also heard piano, flute arrangement and sparse chamber arrangements. The second CD is led by a child’s voice, spoken word and singing, accompanied by synthesizer and organ, flutes, child choir and acoustic pickings. Some fragments really show themselves as if a movie is happening; I assume this could be the soundtrack of a movie too. Then we hear the family talking together and singing together. I loved the track with mother and daughter, with streaming water in the background and some beautiful parts of vocal harmony driven singing. The next two CD’s are voice and guitar mostly, with some very crafty fingerpickings here and there, and some duet guitars. The last, probably bonus track on it I think must come from his German spoken (!) musical. Also this track shows talent to arrange vocal harmonies. The fourth CD continues in the songwriting vein. Here’s also use of mouth harmonica a few times. I very much loved the fourth song that has a Korean folk sensibility. Further on there’s some use of harmony voices, a bit of keyboards and female voice too.  The fifth CD continues with more acoustic songs, other instruments for the arrangements appear as well. The last two tracks must have come from one of his other musical projects. They sound pretty unique, because they mix the Korean folk percussion and folk harmony and singing styles with modern singer/songwriting, the vocal harmonies again brilliantly arranged. The second track I think comes from a real 'pans’ori' traditional, sung by female voice with great emotion and tension. Also the last CD contains more tracks with children led musical concepts of arrangements, and some keyboard instrumental.

There’s much to experience on this album, and the songs themselves and Kim Min Gi’s voice remains extremely attractive also for a foreigner it takes no effort at all to listen, you get easily hooked onto it and keep on listening. Kim Min Gi’s is amongst the most rewarding acoustic song voices. The box isn’t really too expensive, so very recommended.

Homepage : http://www.hakchon.co.kr/english/10/10_1.html
Intro : http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2011/03/50-most-influential-k-pop-artists-31.html
Other article : http://www.hancinema.net/...
See also the songs of Hyun Kyung & Young Ae and from Yang Hee-Eun

Discography : Kim Min'Gi (1971), My Daddy's Pretty Face (1987), Mommy, My Mommy (1988),
Kim Min-Gi 1,2,3,4 (1992/1993)
and also :
Factory Lights: Musical Original Soundtrack [OST] (1978)
Gaettong'i: Musical Original Soundtrack [OST] (1987)
Daddy's Face is Pretty: Musical Original Soundtrack [OST] (1987)
Kim Min-Gi, with Symphony Orchestra of Russia (2003)
Factory Lights (2004)
from http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2011/03/50-most-influential-k-pop-artists-31.html
-(some info below was used in my review up)- (About the importance of KimMin Gi) :

"In 15 words or less:  Korea's Bob Dylan.

Maybe he should have been ranked higher because...  His songs were the spirit of Korea's democratization movement. Korea is now a democracy.

Maybe he should have been ranked lower because...  Through no fault of his own, his music was totally cut off from the mainstream of K-pop.

Why is this artist important?
The world is fascinated by North Korea and its terroristic dictatorship. But it ought to focus more on South Korea, which had no less of a dictatorship at the end of Korean War. There have been many dictatorships in the past, and there will surely be more in the future. But there are not many that transitioned from a dictatorship to a thriving democracy, and there is only one that did so in just 40 years. And Kim Min-Gi wrote the defining hymn of that unprecedented change.

Kim Min-Gi's discography says it all. Kim began his music career as a member of an amateur band at the prestigious Seoul National University in 1969. His talent became obvious to those around him, who urged him to make an album. In 1971, Kim Min-Gi would record his only regular solo album in just one day. The musical value of this album is significant, as it added a layer of sophistication to the "folk rock" of Korea. On top of the simple guitar sound that was the only staple of the folk rock of the time, Kim's album added elements of jazz and classical music.

But of course, the real story is the album's social value. Within a year of its release, the authoritarian Park Chung-Hee regime banned the album. The entire available stock of the album was recalled and incinerated. Kim could not release albums or appear on television or radio anymore, and had to rely on his musical soul mate Yang Hee-Eun to sing his songs instead. A few years later, Kim's song "Morning Dew" was specifically banned, and even covering the song was not allowed.

South Korea's dictatorship correctly assessed the danger of Kim's gifted songwriting. On top of his elegantly simple tunes, Kim Min-Gi added lyrical poems that were at once hauntingly beautiful and deadly sharp. Morning Dew is the prime example of his ability to metaphorically urge a struggle against oppression. The morning dew is the tears collecting on every blade of grass, every person. When morning dews collect, "I" must go into the barren desert like a messianic hero, toward the glory of the sun that rises over the graves of the fallen.

Another beautiful example of Kim Min-Gi's lyric-writing ability is the song "A Little Pond". The pond used to have two beautiful goldfish, who fought each other. One of them died, and as the body of the dead fish rotted away, so did the pond water, and nothing could live in the pond anymore -- a beautiful allegory to the injustice of the divided Koreas. Here is the song, covered by Yang Hee-Eun. (A Little Pond, a movie about the Nogeun-ri Massacre, was named after the song.)

South Korea's authoritarian regime succeeded in some respects -- Kim Min-Gi was driven out of the larger pop culture, and was relegated to composing musicals that were barely played in some colleges. For stretches of time, Kim totally gave up on music and turned to farming for years. But in a more important way, the authoritarian regime failed utterly. The few surviving copies of Kim Min-Gi's first album were secretly copied and distributed like a badge of honor among the democratization activists. The democratization activists would first sing "Morning Dew" quietly among themselves, and then loudly during their protests. Over time, Morning Dew would be the de facto anthem of the pro-democracy protesters. A song about a fragile natural phenomenon became a roaring call for freedom sung by thousands and thousands of people, beaten down by police clubs and covered in tear gas. South Korea would fully democratize, and Kim Min-Gi's albums were finally unbanned in 1993.

The ultimate testament to the power of the song is the fact that North Korea banned this song also. Because North Korea saw the democratization protesters as its allies (both because the protesters were generally leftist and because enemy of the enemy was a friend,) initially North Korea used "Morning Dew" as a part of the propaganda. But as the song spread, there was no mistaking the message of Morning Dew -- the song became wildly popular in North Korea, sung by the people who wished to rebel against the regime in their hearts. Finally, North Korea banned the song in 1998.

Interesting trivia:  Kim Min-Gi continued his rebellion by writing musicals with heavily social messages. His musical Factory Lights, describing the fate of the union members at a factory, was also banned. In 1994 Kim directed a musical Line One, which was originally a German musical adjusted to take on a Korean narrative, again describing the downtrodden people in the ghettos of Seoul. It became the most successful musical in Korean history, running for 13 years in the same theater."

by askakorean@gmail.com
If anyone knows more about this artist/release or would like to review this item, please e-mail me
GO BACK TO KOREAN NEW CDS RELEASES OVERVIEW
GO BACK TO KOREAN MUSIC PAGES