Glam queen Patti Kim aims for intimacy

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Glam queen Patti Kim aims for intimacy


Once you’re big in entertainment, people expect you to act like it: singing in concert halls the size of the Sejong Center, ticket prices starting at 100,000 won ($95) and a view constantly blocked by a mass of fans.
It might sound good, but Patti Kim is sick of it. Her soulful pre-pop crooning on her hit track in the 60s ― songs like Cho-u (Encounter) and Ibyeol (Parting) ― is one reason she was voted one of the 10 greatest Korean singers of all time in a survey by the broadcaster KBS 1TV earlier this year. The last several decades have been a blur of huge crowds and massive concert halls.
No more, she says. Her next concert series will be held at the Chungmu Art hall in Jung-gu, Seoul, till Oct. 23. The venue holds only 800 people, and the ticket prices are as low as 40,000 won.
“I always wanted to do small shows, simply because I’ve only done big ones,” Ms. Kim said. “This show is for the ones that didn’t have the chance to see me live.”
“I even go to local supermarkets these days,” she continued. “I am going for a much more relaxed and easy-going Patti Kim. I planned this [change of pace] for 15 years.”
Despite the attempt to down-grade her image, Ms. Kim is still keeping her distance from her fans. She refuses to do photo sessions at public venues, for instance. “Stars need to be secretive,” she said.
She took her stage name from the 50s American singer Patti Page, and with it the sense of glamour and style that almost disappeared in the 60s, with the popularity of folk music and trot in Korea. Ms. Kim has been quick to adopt whatever stuck her fancy in American pop music ― her cover of “Lilac Wine,” also sung by Eartha Kitt and Nina Simone, was another big hit ― but the resulting sound become something definitively Korean before K-pop dance acts arose in the 80s.
But her image has always been something she felt she needed to tightly control.
“Back in the old days, I wore a lot of makeup,” Ms. Kim said. “I had white manicured nails in the 60s. But as I get older, I would like to be viewed as a bit more tender and natural. It looks shallow if you have too much makeup on when you are this age.”
Just don’t expect Ms. Kim’s attempt to play down her image to make her more modest. Asked by a fan how it was that she become more beautiful with age, she didn’t pause to blush before replying, “Because I haven’t had any plastic surgery.”
“When you are born exceptionally beautiful, you are tempted to undergo plastic surgery to sustain that beauty,” she said. “But if you are born rather plain, you are pretty much the same even if you get older. I am quite glad I wasn’t born that beautiful.”
She says her skin, hair and style are all of her own making. “I put my own makeup on and do my own manicures. I am just grateful to my parents for blessing me with a healthy voice and great skin.”
Ms. Kim also attributes her beauty to her music. “I don’t know why, but singers appear younger than actors,” she said.
This is her 46th year since her debut performance, in which she sang on stage at a US Army base. “I’d like to keep singing until the 50th year,” she said. “God only knows if I’ll retire sooner or later, but I’ll give it my best shot.”

by Lee Kyong-hee
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