중앙데일리

Man of freedom and music may soon return to painting

Feb 12,2007
Kim Min-gi began his creative life as a painter but is renowned as a composer and director of musicals. [JoongAng Ilbo]
Kim Min-gi, 56, the composer of the Korean song “Morning Dew” and director of the rock musical “Line 1” in Korea, will be awarded the Goethe Medal in March. The Goethe Institute awards the Goethe Medal to honor non-German artists and scholars who have made a substantial contribution to culture. The recipients of the medal include sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and film director Billy Wilder. The three previous Korean recipients are artist Suh Hang-suk, composer Yun I-sang and video artist Paik Nam-june.
Mr Kim feels humble about the award. “My nickname is ‘Seok-gu,’ and when it is reversed in order, it is ‘Gu-seok,’ which means corner,” he said. “I feel more comfortable when I am alone in my corner than surrounded by other people. Thinking about giving an acceptance speech and attending a reception gives me a headache.”
The German government appreciated his version of “Line 1,” which was written by Volker Ludwig. Its music was composed by Birger Heymann.
“German musicals have more in common with Korean folk drama than English or American musicals,” said Mr. Kim. “They have lots of room for reinterpretation. I feel grateful for the award and for the fact I did not have to be loyal to the original, which I totally rewrote for Korea.”
“Line 1” is famous for producing many stars. Actors Sul Kyung-gu, Hwang Jung-min, Cho Seung-woo, Bang Eun-jin, Kim Yun-suok, jazz musician Na Yoon-seon, musical actors Bae Hae-seon, Suh Bum-suk, and Chun Byung-wook all became famous while appearing in the musical.
“I didn’t teach the actors. I don’t even have experience in performing. There are strong elements of drama, song and dance in the musical. They could naturally learn the basics of acting while practicing and performing. The musical itself was a good teacher for them,” he said.
“Line 1” premiered in Korea in 1994 and had been performed 3,000 times by the end of last year. Mr. Kim said the shows will continue as long as there is an audience.
He expressed both hopes and fears about the increased popularity of musicals in Korea.
“They will help the music industry, which is now in crisis. The clear delivery of lyrics is very important for musicals and it will revive the meaning of lyrics, which have been weakened by the popularity of dance music.”
The name Kim Min-gi is associated with words like “freedom” and “resistance.” He composed “Morning Dew,” which was sung by activists in the democracy movement.
“I feel uncomfortable when I am referred to as an activist,” he said. “I just expressed reality and hope in the song.”
Asked about whether he had been approached by the current administration as he is close to members of the Korean People’s Artist Federation, he said, “I always have doubts about being part of an organization. I was always an outsider. I went to art school but rather than being a painter I became a composer, then I was involved in theater arts, which says something about me.
“I want to produce plays for children. I have a plan to start drawing again though it seems a bit late,” he said.


By Choi Min-woo(JoongAng Ilbo)/ Limb Jae-un(Staff Writer) [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]


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