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Hidden Hand of Korean Pop Music

2006/09/11 | 96 views | Permalink | Source

By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter

Renowned actor Hwang Jung-min brought attention to the staff working behind the scenes by attributing the best actor award he won last year at the Blue Dragon Awards to them. He was honored for his work on the film "You are my Sunshine".

Hwang said that he is a just "simple actor", who just ate the dishes the staff "cooked", leaving a greater impression on his fans and critics.

Working behind the scenes can be a lonely job. Backstage workers are supposed to keep a low profile to keep the spotlight on the actors. The pattern is the same with television dramas and film.

Tak Hyun-min, concert director and producer for acclaimed musicians such as YB, led by Yoon Do-hyun and Kim C, also has sympathy for film staff. He is considered a pioneer in pop music concert direction.

Tak, 34, also recently published a book titled "Interesting Stories of Back Stages".

"I was deeply impressed by Hwang's comments, giving honor to his staff, but I feel the best actor emerges when there is a great staff", Tak said in an interview with The Korea Times. "I work in the same way with pop concerts and performances. The best staff helps musicians become the best".

Tak, who also works as general manager of the contents business department of the Daum Music Contents Group, said that his job is to set the stage for the musicians. His work ranges from casting guests to fading backstage once the show begins.

"The more invisible we are, the better the show is. Until the show starts, we roll up our sleeves to make the show the best. But once the show starts, everything will be given to the hands of performers on the stage", he said.

Tak "accidentally" stumbled into a career in concert management while working at the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy in 1999.

Tak was in charge of cultural business at the civic group. He took on the task of managing a charity concert without any prior knowledge or experience.

"As a novice in the field, I was successful in planning the concert and leaving a huge profit of some 50 million won", he said.

After a successful first concert, he began working as a pop concert director. He worked for Yoon Do-hyun's band when Yoon's popularity reached its peak in 2002 with the World Cup song, "Oh! Pilsung Korea".

He said that pop singers in Korea have little experience holding live concerts. The business burgeoned in the early 1990s, following a period marked by social and political upheaval in 1970s.

"I think concert directors like me should jettison the old habits of merely repeating musicians' hit songs at the live concerts. Instead, we should recreate totally new music to appeal to fans who come to concerts seeking fun and entertainment", he said.

He said there are many live concerts but no concert reviewers or critics so far.

"Some concerts have high-quality performance, but others don't", he said. "Critics are essential to improve the quality of concerts".

The lack of concert critics and reviews is a reflection of the Korean pop scene, he said. Performance is growing rapidly, but quality is poor.

He said that Korean pop music is struggling to counter declining album sales caused by illegal music downloads.

"Free downloads are replacing albums, which are musicians' lifelines", he said. "But I don't want to put all the blame on listeners. The government ignored possible copyright infringement problems by focusing on the information and technology industry", he said.

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