Singer tries to alleviate his grief with concertsSinger Jo Yong-pil counted up the concerts since he began his comeback tour, which he started last year after his wife of nine years died.
“I had 33 concerts last year, and I scheduled 40 concerts for this year. I think I will schedule more next year,” said Mr. Jo, 54.
He will start a nationwide seven-city tour, beginning with concerts in Seoul on May 1 and 2. The two-month tour is called “Pil & Feel,” a play on Mr. Jo’s name. He is also planning to release his 19th album next year.
When asked whether he is pushing himself too hard, Mr. Jo said, “Well, I feel rather empty now that my significant other is gone.”
Mr. Jo started singing after graduating from high school in 1968. He rose to fame in 1976 when he released a hit song, “Dolawayo Busanhange (Come Back to Busan Port).”
He received a series of best singer awards beginning in 1980. He was invited to hold a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1981 and began his first tour of Japan in 1983.
Mr. Jo had more than 25 hit songs and released 22 albums, including four compilation albums.
Mr. Jo married An Jin-hyeon when they were in their 40s. Early last year, she died of heart disease at the age of 54. Since then, he has thrown himself into his concerts.
The reaction from the public has been overwhelming. All 45,000 tickets for the concert held at Olympic Stadium in Jamsil, southeastern Seoul, on Aug. 30, 2003, to mark his 35th anniversary as a singer were sold. During that concert, held during a record downpour, the audience remained in their seats till the end.
“I felt very grateful that despite our poor economy, so many people are coming,” Mr. Jo said.
Mr. Jo is famous for selling out concerts no matter what shape the economy is in. Tickets for his annual end-of-year concerts, held at the Seoul Arts Center, have sold out for the last five years.
For the tour in May, 70 percent of the tickets were snapped up in just a few days.
“I form a lively repertoire with my 1980s hits and pop music to give people hope in such difficult times,” Mr. Jo said. He will crank out hit songs such as “Ggum (Dream),” “Monalisa,” “Danbalmeory (Shoulder-length Hair)” and “Gochujamjary (Red Dragonfly).”
Despite the warm reception by his fans, Mr. Jo finds it hard to fill the void left by his wife. “I started smoking again after my wife died,” Mr. Jo said.
His efforts to keep busy include charitable work. Mr. Jo paid for 10 underprivileged children to have heart surgery last year. As soon as his wife’s estate is finalized, he plans to establish a charity foundation for people with heart disease.
Mr. Jo said he is in talks with Seoul Arts Center to produce and direct a musical featuring his hit songs. It will be something similar to “Mamma Mia,” the musical based on hits by ABBA, he said.
by Shin Ye-ri
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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