[Interview] Kim Kwang Jin, the Classic man behind ′Magic Castle′ Is Back
The musician and fund manager Kim Kwang Jin looked comfortable and like he was enjoying his time. When I met him last year, he looked so depressed and exhausted that he said himself he thought he had clinical depression. His state was totally understandable, as Kim Kwang Jin’s mother passed away in October 2009, and in April 2010, he lost his father. He was also thoroughly exhausted because he had been working as a fund manager for nine years. At the time, he said tiredly that even though he wanted to do music, he had no time for it.
But the Kim Kwang Jin I met recently seemed to have transformed into a different person. In June he quit Dongbu Management, his company for the last 10 years, and after his songs became hits through Superstar K3, he was happy to be reevaluated as a musician, also.
“I never imagined that a day like this would come. All this happened at the same time I left my company. I think the heavens are cheering me on to work harder on my music.”
In the first round of the Superstar K3 live finals, aired on September 30, Busker Busker, Lee Jung Ah, Chris and Two Months all sang songs by Kim Kwang Jin: Tokyo Girl, True Heart, Letter and Fox. All four teams made it to the next round.
As soon as the contestants’ official recordings of the songs were released, they took over the top ranks of many music charts and made issues across the nation. Busker Busker’s Tokyo Girl was especially popular.
“Tokyo Girl is a song from the Solveig album I released in 2002. It was a precious album to me, but it failed to become popular. Because of that I even blamed the public. After this album failed, I stopped doing music in 2002 and entered Dongbu Management. And that’s where I’ve been working until this year.”
Before Solveig, Kim Kwang Jin made success after success as a composer and singer. As a member of the group The Classic, which he put together with Park Yong Jun, he produced the hits Magic Castle, covered by countless singers after him, and Fox. His solo album in 1998 contained the hit song True Heart, and Letter from his 2000 album was loved by critics and the public alike. After all this, the failure of Solveig dealt him a big blow.
“Because Solveig didn’t do well, I even had to pay for the band sessions myself. I entered the investment company because of that debt. Up until recently, I thought that the album was a failure among the public, but that it was pretty acknowledged among critics. So when a portal site recently announced the top 100 albums in Korean history chosen by critics, I was certain that Solveig would be in there. It announced each album in reverse order from no. 100 to no. 1, and I was so excited when I had read up to no. 10 and Solveig still hadn’t appeared. I excited myself thinking that above no. 10 is too high. But the Solveig album didn’t come up even after I had read it all through to no. 1. I didn’t even make it into the top 100. That’s when I realized that Solveig had been shunned by the critics, too.”
The Solveig album made him think a lot about many things. After the album he had poured his all into was largely ignored by the public, he realized “hard work doesn’t always bring the best results.” So he said he was done with music and transformed into a fund manager. Kim Kwang Jin did perform a few times and release another album in 2008, but he couldn’t bring himself to actively throw his all into music again.
“I stopped doing music because of Tokyo Girl, but now Tokyo Girl is getting me attention. You never know what will happen in life. And thanks to this song, I got to know a lot of juniors who are passionate toward music. They’re reviving my own passion toward music, too.”
Kim Kwang Jin had so much praise to give for the four teams which sang his songs.
“There’s nothing more I can say about Busker Busker. They’re skilled and passionate. They’re all good looking like manga characters, too. Lee Jung Ah is a great singer and Chris has that foreign feel to him. Two Months is also great. Kim Ye Rim is interesting with her unique voice, but Do Dae Yoon is also skilled in many different ways. I even want to write songs for these teams too, though I don’t know whether they’ll accept them.”
Kim Kwang Jin has also been hosting a radio show since September. He is hosting the KBS2 radio show Economy Focus after the spot was passed down to him by ‘country doctor’ Park Kyung Chul. He is also guesting on the MBC radio show FM Music City.
“Economy Focus airs early in the morning, but it’s okay because when I was working for my company I went to work sometime near that hour. The producers like the fact that their host has become more popular thanks to Superstar K3.”
One news outlet reported that after leaving Dongbu Management, he would be founding an investment consulting company, but he hasn’t done so, and is instead working as a private investor. Instead of living a breathless life inside an organization, he chose to live a more relaxed one in which he can also do music.
“It’s so comfortable to work with my shoes off. And my warm grapefruit juice tastes sour and delicious. I spend a lot of time alone, and I work and think about music. I didn’t know I would be leading such a life.”
On November 27, Kim Kwang Jin will be holding a concert at the D-Cube Arts Center in Seoul. His old friend Park Yong Jun, and performers such as Ham Chun Ho, Shin Suk Chul, Kim Jung Ryul and Lee Sung Ryul will be appearing onstage with him. As if to make up for the 10 years he lived as a fund manager, he has returned to his life as the passionate musician Kim Kwang Jin.
- Superstar K3 20111124 Busker Busker 20111124 Magic Castle 20111124 The Classic 20111124 Tokyo Girl 20111124