Zoo's Kim Chang-ki Makes Solo Comeback

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Zoo's Kim Chang-ki Makes Solo Comeback

Their songs were simple but warm. Their lyrics told of everyday stories and everyday things, and their songs touched the hearts of the Korean people and moved them to look back upon their lives and their more beautiful memories.

The Zoo was a group that was popular with Korean youth in the 1980s. Kim Chang-ki, the band's vocalist and primary songwriter, has released a solo debut album entitled, "The Aesthetic of Descent." The inherent beauty and simplicity of life which The Zoo used to convey remains, and Kim has grown to be able to express these sentiments more profoundly. The heroes of his songs are the people close to him, like his brothers, sisters, parents, friends, and his young son, loved ones whose value can easily be overlooked because they are taken for granted.

Time has passed and Kim Chang-ki, a youth in the 1980s, is now the father of the little boy depicted on the album cover. His emphasis on the value of the simple life and one's personal memories, however, are still strong.

In the title track, he returns to the days when he used to go sleighing with his friends through the streets of his village. "The cold wind doesn't feel cold at all / Without worrying about going back up again / Think only about coming down real fast / ... / Days clouded by the desire to climb forever upwards / My mind that used to be always troubled / ..." Listening to the lyrics, you can understand just how Kim interprets his life. "The Aesthetic of Descent" is a beautiful track sung in a soft, soothing tone to a clear guitar and tranquil synthesizer sounds.

"Wake up, Kid" is a warm song, akin to a story Kim would tell his little son when he puts his shoes on backwards. His ability to transform everyday things into beautiful songs is demonstrated especially well here. "Wake up little kid, morning has already come / Let your mommy sleep, and come walk with me / Put your shoes on, they're on backwards again / ... / But it's okay, those mistakes are okay ..." This piece is as simple as a child's song, and the soft chorus affirms the universal feelings expressed.

The album is full of Kim's personal memories. In "My Brother and I," Kim reflects on the days when he used to play the piano together with his mother and his brother. "The Meaning of You That's Left to Me," is a song written in memory of the late Kim Kwang-suk, a former member of The Zoo. There are no frills or contrivances, just Kim's clear, innocent voice backed by the gentle chorus, evoking a sensation like soft whispers from a friend.

The songs, all written by Kim himself, were tightly arranged by Cho Dong-ik and Park Yong-jun. The sixth track, "Like This Moment," is sung by two younger artists, Park Sang-wuk and Seo Jeong-hun. These guests on the album effect a variation on the overall feel.

Kim remarked, "Through this album I was able to distance myself from the group and to sing about my own personal stories." He added, "Because it is so personal it may seem at times boring, but I have projected my desire of making singing 'play,' not 'work,' into this album."

A graduate of Yonsei University Medical School, he is presently working as a psychiatrist in Socho-dong, Seoul. At his hospital and also on "N Clinic," a youth counseling radio program on CBS FM, Kim helps to relieve people's personal conflicts and troubles. Kim puts emphasis on singing as "play," and maintains that after releasing this album he wants to "go back to my usual life and spend more time with my family, friends, and patients." Apart from the radio program, he does not plan to make any TV appearances nor perform in concert. No longer then will his fans be able to enjoy the high-profile Kim like the one who fronted The Zoo for ten years. He is retreating to his everyday life, and will continue to look upon the music as "play."

by Lee Eun-ju

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