Featured Artist of the Week: Kim Jong Kook

Name: Kim Jong Kook (김종국)

Genre: K-Pop, Ballad

Looks can be deceiving- especially if you’re someone like Kim Jong Kook. He first broke into the K-pop industry in 1995 as a member of the K-pop duo Turbo, but decided to pursue a solo career after the release of their 5th album. KJK has since focused mostly on ballads and has become prominently known (and criticized) for his high-pitched “mosquito-like” (as some singers jokingly put it as) voice. That certainly hasn’t stopped him from producing hit singles like Loveable (Sarang Surowo) and One Man.

I was introduced to KJK’s music through a friend of mine, who showed me Loveable (Sarang Surowo). You can probably imagine my surprise when I found out what he looked like (quite the opposite of what I expected). Although his songs were enjoyable, there are places where he can improve- the most obvious point being his voice. Yes, I understand, it’s unique for a guy to have an amazingly high voice, but at times it sounds rather strained. In many cases, we look for voices with depth, with thickness. KJK’s is thin, singular. Feel free to disagree, but I’ve heard what KJK sounds like outside of the music studio- and I must say, although he doesn’t have a very deep voice, it would be quite different to listen to him sing a song in a lower tone.

But to be honest, these things will take time- no one can change their voice at will. And truthfully, his voice has been the one thing helping him garner much attention as well as many awards like KBS Music Awards: Best Artist and MNet Best Solo Male Artist.

After completing his military service in May 2008, KJK came back into the K-pop world with his fifth studio album, Here I Am, on October 22, 2008, a digital single called Happy Virus and one trot Ddajo – and proved that the “tradition” of not being able to rise again after military service was false. His new album featured hit songs Today More Than Yesterday and Thank You.

Even though this man has the toughest exterior (not to mention the most muscular), no one can deny the fact that he has been able to hold on to our attentions with that unusual voice of his- not to mention that we’ve seen his different sides through popular variety shows like X-Man or Family Outing. So here’s to the man who has shown us that even tough-looking guys have a soft side: Kim Jong Kook.

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