Korean songwriter strikes solid gold in U.S.

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Korean songwriter strikes solid gold in U.S.

A well-known Korean songwriter has found his way into the American pop music industry.
Park Jin-young, 32, a Korean singer and songwriter, has written a song for Will Smith’s new album “Lost and Found.”
“I can’t believe I wrote a song for his album. When I finished recording the song, Will Smith asked me what I thought of the performance, I really felt like I was dreaming,” said Mr. Park, recalling the time the U.S. pop star recorded “I Wish I Made That,” his song.
Back in the 1990s when Mr. Park was dancing on stage in tight, see-through shirts, not so many people thought he would become the first Korean songwriter to break into the highly competitive American pop music market. Mr. Park himself says he had no idea of his luck.
However, Smith is not the first big star to have a song penned by Mr. Park. Before him, Mase, a well-known U.S. rapper who took a break as a singer to pursue a life as a priest, made a comeback last year with one of Mr. Park’s songs.
Mr. Park says, “If Mase is a ‘million seller,’ Will Smith is ‘10 million seller,’” adding that his life as a songwriter is now blossoming.
The album, “Lost and Found,” was ranked sixth on the Billboard chart in the first week since its release.
Mr. Park says the secret to his successful entrance into the U.S. music industry is actually simple.
“I knew how to dance and how to write lyrics,” Mr. Park said. “So, I could write appealing songs. To make a song that makes listeners move their body, you should at least be able to dance at least up to a certain level.
“Also, if you know how to write lyrics, you get more ideas to make proper music to them,” he said.
For American musicians, what Mr. Park emphasized seemed to work perfectly.
“If people start moving their heads and bodies when you play your song, it is a sign that the song will sell.” Those who have chosen to sing Park’s songs include well-known groups such as Outkast.
On Saturday, Mr. Park flew to Miami to meet with Puff Daddy and play his song.
When Mr. Park first started living in the United States, he rented a room in his friend's house. Now he has moved into a three-story house, with a recording studio, which his production company offered.
“It took one good year for me to even pass beyond the reception desk at a production company,” he said. “I used to give away my CDs to the secretaries, knowing that they might not be played. Now I’m friends with heads of the companies.”
Mr. Park is not only writing songs, however. He recently co-opened a restaurant with well-know pop star Usher in Miami.
However, his success is not all rosy since Mr. Park has to constantly prove his talents in the dog-eat-dog music industry.
“America is a country where things work perfectly according to commercialism and power. You get treated exactly according to how much power and money you have,” Mr. Park said.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m a balloon getting bigger and bigger and will burst one day. Or I sometimes feel as if I’m in a fast-running car without a break. I feel I should either go beyond my limits or get out of the car,” the songwriter said.
Mr. Park, however, wants to emphasize that it is possible for Korean songwriters to realize their dream in the U.S. music industry. “If I can do it, anyone can,” Mr. Park said.


by Ahn Hai-ri
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