There are those life-changing events that are beyond any words or logic. And for rising singer-songwriter Paul Kim, the most striking moment of his nondescript 20s came one ordinary night at an Army base while serving his mandatory military service.
Flipping through the booklet of his favourite singer Lee So-ra’s fifth album, Kim encountered a phrase: “I am a little seed that sprouted out to sing.”
From that moment, the magic was on. Kim’s heart started to throb and his mind was awash with inexplicable feelings he had never felt before, Kim recalled.
“While on the military base, listening to Lee So-ra’s music was my only comfort. But on that night, it was as if I was struck by electricity. The first thought that popped in my mind after reading the phrase was, ‘I also want the reason of my life to be ‘singing’,” said Kim.
“I’d kind of lost where I was coming from, but that phrase was an enlightenment, reminding me that singing was my biggest happiness. I had to become a singer.”
Five years on from that unforgettable night, Kim has become one of the most promising singer-songwriters in the industry, earning the nickname “boyfriend in the eardrum” for his lush vocals and lyrics rich with deep contemplation and sensitivity.
He recently released the first part of his first full-length album Part 1, fronted by lead track Road. His solo concerts slated for November in both Seoul and Busan also sold out within a minute online. Carving out a career as a singer was a headfirst dive for Kim, however, who had to start from scratch.
Before entering the Army, Kim said he was an ordinary university student studying business in Japan, devoid of passions or dreams, eventually plunging him into a mire of depression.
After being discharged from the military with an idea in his head, Kim dropped out of college in Japan and landed in Korea to embark on a new journey. Kim quit university instead of taking time off because he wanted to sever all the paths that could lead him to his old self, regardless of how his new challenge panned out.
“When I came to Korea, I had absolutely no connection to the music industry, and even worse, I was too old to audition for major entertainment agencies like YG. But there was no looking back. I auditioned as much as I could and worked at coffee shops between intervals to afford music lessons,” said Kim.
Despite his passion, the journey was not as rosy as he had envisioned.
After failing countless auditions, Kim was at the edge of giving up, until he met a woman who came to the coffeehouse Kim was working at.
Crediting her as a lifesaver, Kim said: “She told me that she became a big fan of my music after seeing me on an audition programme, and that my music helped her overcome her hardships. If it had not been for her, I might have given up.”
Having spent most of his youth overseas – five years in New Zealand and three years in Japan – Kim’s music is packed with loneliness, love and sadness.
Kim explained that his latest single, Road, is a flashback to his early days, when the road to achieving his dream seemed like an endless and lonesome marathon. Kim said he plans to release the second part of the album, Part 2, in January, filled with tracks centring on “loneliness.” – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network