Born in Busan, South Korea, Kim grew up in the country’s capital Seoul and took up the gayageum as she entered the Gukak National Middle School. She has been a renowned player of the instrument for nearly 40 years, having first come to prominence during her middle school years in the 1970s. From 1974, she studied with Ham Dongjeongwol, the only inheritor of Choi Ok-Sam’s school of Gayageum Sanjo, and in the 1980s, she took lessons from the master drummer Kim Myung-hwan. She studied at the Department of Korean Music at Seoul National University for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and then earned a PhD from The Academy of Korean Studies.
Since her mid-thirties, Kim has been renowned as the most representative virtuoso of Choi’s Gayageum Sanjo and noted for her logical rendition and excellent skills. Her melodic expressions mesmerise audiences, yet she has done so with restrained emotion. Invited to perform at the United Nations, and in 20 countries, she has introduced Korean music through her sophisticated and refined performances, drawing great acclaim along the way. She has also released solo albums, including two of Gayageum Sanjo in the style of Choi Ok-Sam via Radio France Ocora (2012), and “Baek Dae-Woong Masterworks for Gayageum” via Universal records as well as various ensemble recordings including “Seoul Saeul Gayageum Trio” and “Eoullim” which are both contemporary renditions of traditional music.
In the last five years, she has been invited to several world-renowned Music Festivals including the Festival d’ile de France (2011), Festival de L’Imaginaire (2012), Facettes de l’art Coreen (2013), TFF Rudolstadt (2014), and the concerts celebrating the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and China (2012).
In addition to performing as one of the greatest masters of the gayageum, Kim has published seven volumes and various essays demonstrating her prominent scholarship and expertise in Korean music as a professor at the School of Korean Traditional Arts, Korea National University of Arts. She is currently the Director General of the National Gugak Center which is Korea’s national organization for traditional preforming arts.
Yong Bok Cho – Janggu