"I will continue to produce more plays and musicals until the day Hakchon closes", said Kim Min-gi, who has settled in Daehangno for 20 years. "These days, production companies reach out to produce musicals for commercial reasons. This act as a barrier for a new culture to form". [YONHAP]
When Koreans think of Kim Min-gi, 60, the legendary folk-rock musician and composer, most think of his song "Morning Dew", which broke barriers in Korean music.
Kim is also recognized as the father of the Hakchon Theater, a small experimental theater in Daehangno, Seoul's theater district, that is celebrating its 20th anniversary next month.
Despite the upheavals in his life, Kim has persevered. And even though he is regarded as a pioneer in music and theater, he has managed to remain humble.
"I am foolish and an unsophisticated artist", Kim said.
In addition to his accomplishments in music and theater, Kim was also a political activist whose songs were frequently banned for inspiring thousands of young people to hit the streets and battle the autocratic governments of the 1970s and '80s.
Although it was years before his works were officially recognized by the government, his strong will propelled him to continue to release albums like "My Daddy's Pretty Face" (1987) and "Kim Min-gi 1,2,3,4" (1992).
His artistic skills were also recognized in songs he composed and produced for singers who would later become famous, including Yang Hee-eun and Kim Kwang-seok.
In 1991, Kim helped open Hakchon Theater, which served as an outlet for his long-suppressed artistic ambitions.
He transformed the performing-arts landscape in Korea with the theater by creating a new kind of cultural space that accommodated musicals, plays and concerts.
The theater made history when it produced a Korean version of the rock musical "Line 1", which Kim adapted from the German production "Linie 1 - Musikalische Revue" by playwright Volker Ludwig and composer Birger Heymann.
It was the first musical in the history of Korean musical theater to feature live music, forever changing the way theater was presented in Korea. It was also the first small theater to attempt a musical theater production. It was a gamble that became an enduring success.
The Korean version of the musical premiered on May 14, 1994, making it Korea's longest-running musical to date.
The theater, which now has two venues, the Hakchon Blue Theater and Hakchon Green Theater, has since gone on to produce a variety of plays and musicals.
It also produces a repertory of works for children of all ages.
Kim said he became interested in children's theater because he believes that most children in the digital era lack human interaction and are increasingly being isolated from music.
But when asked why he isn't producing plays for young people who use his style of music, he said, "Recently, I came across a music program with performances by old-time singers. I thought they were terrible. There aren't many musicians who are as consistent as the ones who performed at C'est si Bon".
C'est si Bon was the foremost music hall in the country during the 1970s and 1980s and it hosted performances by popular folk-rock musicians of the time.
Today it is the name of an up-and-coming folk-rock band whose members - Cho Yeong-nam, Song Chang-sik and Kim Sei-hwan - are all friends with Kim. The group's recent appearance on MBC's "Come to Play" indicates that folk rock may be experiencing a revival in the Korean music scene. But when the show aired, the band's members cited Kim as an inspiration and people have linked him to the band ever since, though he claims no credit for their success.
"I didn't appear with C'est si Bon on the show 'Come to Play', but people on the street sometimes come to me and ask if I'm one of the members of the group", Kim said. "But I did go to C'est si Bon when it was a music hall because my university held a welcome party for freshmen there".
Kim had another goal when he opened Hakchon Theater - to support folk and folk-rock musicians who were being edged out of the music industry by the advent of dance music, led by Seo Taiji & Boys.
Under his leadership, the theater began presenting concerts by legendary Korean musicians such as Kim Kwang-seok and Roh Young-sim, a tradition that continues to this day.
When asked his opinion of today's Korean music, Kim said he would like to see the Korean music industry support more young musicians who are interested in folk music such as Lee Juck, Lucid Fall and Jeong Jae-il, who directed Hakchon Theater's production of the children's play "Geurimja Sodong" (2008).
Hakchon Blue Theater will present an encore performance of 12 works in its repertory, including "Line 1" and "Chili Paste Tteokbokki" from March 10 to 20. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and at 4 p.m. on weekends. No performance March 15. Go to Hyehwa Station, line No. 4, exit 2. Call (02) 763-8233 or visit www.hakchon.co.kr.
The theater will also host a concert by Roh Young-sim from March 22 to 30. And props and costumes from "Line 1" will be shown at the Seoul Museum of History in September.
By Lee Kyoung-hee, Chang Hae-won
Source : joongangdaily.joins.c... ( English Korean )
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