Students give back through music
Not long after Yoo Jung-woo became an applied music professor at Daekyeung University in North Gyeongsang in 2010, he began to feel sympathy for the 160 students he taught who were eager to perform on stage but had few opportunities to do so.
Yoo started to think that the prospect of music students at local vocational colleges seemed gray; some had to work at restaurants or factories after failing to enter major music agencies, and others were cheated by ghost entertainment companies that promised to make them successful musicians.
“I thought to myself ‘it is not fair for the local vocational college students,’” Yoo said. “Then I was determined to provide a stage for them.”
As a result, Yoo decided to establish an entertainment company - one that does not have the making of profit as its central goal, but helps vocational college students become musicians as a result.
Yoo drew 50 million won ($47,125) from of his bank account and borrowed a practice room in Daegu. After selecting 20 students as trainees, in July 2011 he started his company, TK Entertainment, which stands for “The Korea.”
The company is not a typical entertainment agency. Rather, it’s a “talent donation company” where students contribute their skills to society. Under the agency’s vision, pupils at TK Entertainment perform on the street or at senior citizen centers.
But Yoo began to dream bigger. He wanted see his students perform on professional stages in Seoul, away from Korea’s smaller regions.
Yoo sold his two apartments in Daegu and Seoul to collect money to rent a practice room and music facilities in Korea’s capital. He also borrowed cash from acquaintances and took out a bank loan. After gathering one billion won, Yoo rented a 260-square-meter (2798-square-feet) office in Mapo District, western Seoul, in August 2013.
Yoo asked Kang Hyun-min, the guitarist of the rock group Loveholics, to become a composer for the company, enticing him by sharing the company’s mission. So Chan-hwee, a singer best known for her hit single “Tears,” also joined the agency to help Yoo, sympathizing with the situation he and his students faced.
Soon, seven trainees had debuted, and 200 million won had been invested into producing albums.
Although it has been four years since Yoo founded the company, earning a profit is rare. But he feels rewarded seeing his trainees’ faces when they are on stage.
Since moving to Seoul, the trainees have performed morale-boosting concerts at military bases around 20 times and have visited senior citizen centers five times. They also provided a free concert for citizens in Daegu. Yoo has started to dream even bigger. This time he wants to go abroad to teach music in developing countries.
“When I get to earn 10 million won a month someday, I will build a scholarship foundation,” Yoo said. “I want to teach [people] how to play instruments and sing to those who haven’t been exposed to music much.”
BY KIM YOUN-HO [firstname.lastname@example.org]