Michael Bolton, Dolly Parton, Stevie Wonder and Cyndi Lauper — a few names that will remain in the music industry forever. Anyone in the United States is sure to have heard of the artists and their songs. Some Korean singers are also legendary and iconic among teens even to this day — let me introduce you to a few.
1. Lee Sun-hee
Lee Sun-hee was born on Nov. 11, 1964, in Chungnam, Korea. In 1984, Lee was studying at the Incheon College of Technology when she decided to perform at the MBC Riverside Song Festival and won the grand prize. That’s when her music career officially started. The next year, she released her first album, “To J.” After that, Lee’s music progressed, and she continued to release successful albums. In 2009, Lee released her 14th album, “My Love …” and decided to take a break. Lee had made her mark on the industry as a small but powerful singer with an angelic voice and unique vocal ability. After five years, Lee made a comeback in March of 2014 with her 30th-anniversary album, “Serendipity,” and is still adored by millions.
2. So Chan-hwi
Kim Kyoung-hee, stage name So Chan-hwi, was born on Jan. 20, 1972. Kim is a rock singer known for her powerful high notes and wild charisma. Her most popular song was released in the 2000s, titled “Tears.” Although she joined the entertainment industry as a singer, she has also starred in various television shows and dramas including “Infinite Challenge” (2005), “King of Masked Singer” (2015), “Hidden Singer” (2020) and “Mystic Pop-Up Bar” (2020).
3. Lee Moon-sae
Lee Moon-sae was born on Jan. 17, 1959, in Seoul, Korea. Lee debuted in 1978 as a ballad singer and eventually released 16 albums. In 1987, Lee released his album “When Love Passes By,” which sold 2.85 million copies, becoming the bestselling album in South Korea at the time. At the same time, Lee was the daily host of the radio show “Starry Night” from 1985 to 1996. With his warm and charming tone, Lee has captured the hearts of fans of all ages, which is probably why he is still releasing albums and has even collaborated with trending artist Zion. T.
4. Yoon Do-hyun
Yoon Do-hyun was born on Feb. 3, 1972, in Paju, Korea. After Yoon graduated high school, he joined the band Jongyiyeon in 1993, but decided to release a solo album called “In Front of the Post Office in Autumn” the next year. Seeing that the album was not successful, Yoon concluded that he would have to follow prevailing trends and create another band: Yoon Do-hyun Band. After performing in 1996, the band slowly lost popularity and was close to being disbanded in 2000, when the band skyrocketed in 2002 during the World Cup Series after releasing “Victory Korea!” Yoon is now married and has a daughter, but is still actively working in the entertainment business. Yoon has also acted in several musicals and films, appeared in TV shows and has been a radio DJ and host.
“Fantastic Duo” Season 1 and 2
One thing all these singers have in common is that they have all appeared on “Fantastic Duo,” a Korean television show where popular Korean singers, usually older, get to hear their fans (three in the first season and five in the second) sing their songs. The producers sift out the best voices after listening to hundreds of fans that submit audition videos, and then the singer chooses one fan they will sing a duet with. Then depending on the votes from fans, viewers and celebrity guests choose which duet will continue. My favorite moment from Lee Sun-hee was when she sang “Beautiful Rivers and Mountains” with a fan. From So Chan-hwi it was when she sang “Tears” with all five of her fans. I enjoyed Lee Moon-sae’s performance with student Kim Yoon-hee, and when Yoon Don-hyun sang “A Flying Butterfly,” I couldn’t stop clapping.
Music, no matter how old, is not meant to be buried — it will always come back because fans are eternal, and the mark older artists leave on the music industry changes things forever, whether we realize it or not. Go out and explore some “forgotten” songs — you won’t regret it.