Folk legend inspires musical tracks

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Folk legend inspires musical tracks


The cast and production staff promote “The Days,” a musical with songs inspired by works of legendary Korean folk singer Kim Kwang-seok, at a press conference at Daehagno’s Musical Center on Feb. 14.[NEWSIS]

Although legendary Korean folk singer Kim Kwang-seok ended his own life in 1996, his songs have ingrained themselves into the fabric of the culture. His clear, sorrowful vocals can move even non-Koreans to tears. For Koreans, who understand not only the lyrics but also the era, his music transports them back to the 1980s and ’90s, a time of great change for the country.

Now, fans need not be limited to his several “best of” albums to get their nostalgic fix. A musical featuring a soundtrack of Kim’s songs called “The Days” has been created by director Jang Yoo-jeong.

“I realized he was the one who consoled us through the hard times with his songs,” said the director during a press conference last week. “I’m sorry we couldn’t protect him. I want to console those who still feel guilty for the loss through this musical.”

As a college student in the early 1980s, Kim joined a song club called “Union of Echoes” composed of student democracy activists and singers from colleges around Seoul. As part of the club, he helped make the album “Gaedongi.”

The reason behind his suicide in January of 1996 has been the result of endless speculation. Some said he couldn’t stand his lack of talent, some said it was the harsh glare of the public spotlight that pushed him over the edge. But the real truth has never emerged. A tribute concert has been held every year since his death, featuring artists from across the musical spectrum.

“The Days” is set in 1992 at the Blue House, where everyone is busy preparing for the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and China. The story develops as the president’s daughter goes missing along with her bodyguard, Moo-young. The head of the presidential security service, Jeong-hak, slowly unravels the mystery of where they’ve gone.

Jang got the idea of creating a musical about bodyguards while on a promotional tour for the movie “Finding Kim Jong-wook,” which she directed based on her musical of the same name. “During the tour, I was surrounded by bodyguards and they looked so scary. One of the scariest-looking was sitting next to me in the car and I just happened to catch a glimpse of his cell phone. I was all tense, but when I saw a teddy bear sticker on the back of his phone, I thought it was really funny. So I decided to create a musical based on bodyguards, who try to protect people’s lives,” said Jang.

“The Days” includes 26 of Kim Kwang-seok’s songs including “Turn to Dust,” “Around 30,” “The Private’s Letter” and many more.

Veteran actors Yoo Joon-sang, Oh Man-seok and Kang Tae-eul have been cast in the role of “Jeong-hak.”

“I’m from the Kim Kwang-seok generation. I was practicing the song ‘Around 30’ and I suddenly got a lump in my throat,” said Yoo during the press conference. “I’m sure that the audience will be taken back to ‘the days’ through this musical.”

Choi Jae-woong, and Ji Chang-wook will play Moo-young, while actress Bang Jin-eui and Kim Jeong-hwa will take the role of the president’s daughter.

“The Days” will be staged at the Musical Center in Daehagno from April 4 to June 30. Tickets range from 55,000 won to 99,000 won. For more information, call 1577-3363.

By Yim Seung-hye []
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