Through her hands, the Gayageum sometimes sounds like a piano and at other times like a guitar. Traditional and modern co-exist in her voice and the melodies, creating a unique atmosphere unfound in any genre. The owner of this music belongs to a renowned Hongdae singer-songwriter,
Jung Min-aa, also a Graduate of the Department of Korean Traditional Music.
Jung made her name known to others by performing live concerts with her Gayageum in indie clubs of Hongdae. The Hongdae Area is a region in Seoul, near Hongik University. The area is known for its urban arts, indie music culture, clubs, and entertainment. Jung is known as a “modern Gayageum performer” there, because she plays the instrument in an ensemble with other modern instruments. Since her debut in 2005, she has released a total of four albums, and among them, her first album “Sangsamong” sold nearly one million copies. Also, one of her songs “Becoming Something” was included in a music textbook used in the middle school curriculum of Korean students.
Jung has been performing on the Gayageum since she was a high school student, which led her to major in Korean Traditional Music.However, she was keener on rock music and folk songs. “I remember myself as a young student visiting Hongdae live music clubs listening to heavy metal and doing head banging. These old pastimes influenced me to become a modern Gayageum performer,” recollected Jung.
Her unique music style was created during the days when she performed at an indie club called “Orange Fox” located in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province. Her original intention was to use the practice room which were lent free of charge. However, her Gayageum performance impressed the owner of the club who gave her a chance to perform on stage. “After I finished my first concert in the club, I gained confidence. From then on, I started to make new songs for upcoming stage performances. In the process, I tried different approaches to music by combining both western and traditional Korean music. The result was very successful. I received many requests from clubs in Hongdae, and people began to recognize me,” said Jung.
Most of her songs are inspired from the singer, Kim Min-gi, who is widely known for singing Morning Dew. “I am touched by how he describes the powerlessness and spiritless attitudes of certain people. This kind of mood in his music influenced me when I was composing my songs,” said Jung.