Cult poet finds new life in pop song

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Cult poet finds new life in pop song

A song with lyrics written by the late poet Ki Hyeong-do will be released for the first time.
Singer Shim Su-bong, 52, included the song “October,” on her 11th album.
It has been 17 years since the poet’s death and 19 years since the song was written.
Ki only published one book of poems during his short life ― “A Black Leaf in the Mouth.”
That volume was critically acclaimed and he is now regarded as one of the most influential Korean writers of the past two decades.
His poems deal with the melancholy of youth, solitude and urban living.
Ki started out working as a journalist for JoongAng Ilbo in 1984. He’d graduated from Yonsei University, winning numerous accolades for his essays and short stories.
In 1989, at the age of 29, he was found dead in a small theater in Jongno. He’d suffered a stroke.
Literary critic Park Chul-hwa once said, “21st century Korean poetry for the most part lies inside the lullaby of Ki’s works.”
Since its release, A Black Leaf in the Mouth has sold over 400,000 copies.
October was a collaboration with a colleague at the JoongAng Ilbo, the composer Park Gwang-ju. The song was recorded in 1987, but it was never released.
The lyrics have similar themes as Ki’s poetic works:
Silent memories stand in that dim boulevard, amidst the dark trees and wind.
I don’t think I’ll be able to leave this place but I’ll never be able to go back.
Oh the dreams and time which do not seem to be mine anymore.
Why can’t I forget when the streets have already ended?
The singer Shim, a fan of Ki’s works, said she was offered the song before but turned it down.
“The lyrics were too poetic and I felt a bit burdened. However, after some time, I became so attached to the lyrics,” she said.
The composer Park confessed he felt bad because Ki had wanted the song to reach out to the public. “It feels great now to be able to keep my promise to him,” Park said.
Shim is planning to release another song with Ki’s lyrics, “The Foliage in My Heart,” on her greatest hits compilation next year.


By Jung Hyun-mok JoongAng Ilbo [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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