Singer drops single in memory of late brother
Music producer and singer Kim Sung-wook, 45, released his latest single, “Rainshower” earlier this month. It is his first new song in 17 years, since his second album release back in 2002. This acoustic song with a plaintive melody evokes a calm yet sorrowful ambience: the song is dedicated to the memory of his late brother, singer Kim Sungjae, who died under mysterious circumstances at the young age of 23 back in 1995 at the apex of his popularity.
Initially, police suspected murder, and his girlfriend was later tried and found guilty of this, being sentenced to life in prison. However, an appeals court later exonerated her, citing a lack of evidence presented at the first trial.
In the 24 years that have passed since the tragedy, Kim Sung-wook and his mother suffered deep pain from the sudden loss of their dear brother and son.
During a recent interview with The Korea Times, Kim Sung-wook said after some 20 years, he realizes how bright and precious life is.
“After more than 20 years of directly gazing at death, I realized how bright life is, and how beautifully and widely life is as it unfolds before us. People say the difference between life and death is paper-thin. Seeing the light of life again, I have decided to fully live every second and every moment, so that I can greet death at any moment, without regret,” Kim said.
“I’ve decided to do what I want to, and speak as I want to, in order to fully live this life. I think we need to live every moment happily and joyfully, because only then we can love others. This learning came from more than two decades of mortification and despair.”
The single also conveys his current state of mind; with a composed sound and bittersweet melody, the song expresses the feelings of loneliness and hollowness after a loss, and yet after some mourning, life goes on and people must move forward with their lives.
“I think everything has its own timing. The song was visualized three years ago, yet at that time, for some reason, I couldn’t release it. I just kept the song inside me, and this year, the song finally gained momentum, and came out into the world very smoothly,” he said.
The single’s release coincides with the family gaining some media attention as in August, the SBS TV show “We Want to Know the Truth” planned to air a segment about the circumstances of the death of Kim
Sung-jae, and suggest the use of the latest technology to solve the case. However the show didn’t air after a court granted an injunction filed by the ex-girlfriend, whose lawyer argued it would irreparably damage her personal rights.
As this was the first time in 20 years that the long-running TV show was prohibited from airing a segment, people became interested in the case and more than 210,000 signed a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website, protesting the court’s decision for “obstructing the people’s right to know.”
Kim Sung-wook said he was grateful for the public’s support.
“I am grateful for the people who still remember him, and also grateful that more and more people, including the younger generation who never knew who Kim Sung-jae was, are now interested in him,” Kim said.
For the last five years, Kim has been organizing memorial events for his late brother twice a year, every April and November, to mark this brother’s birthday and the date of his death.
“I thought about what I could do for my brother. All I could do was keep remembering him. Keep him in my memory. That’s why I restarted the commemorative events five years ago,” Kim said, adding that everyone was welcome to them.
“I just want people, including those outside Korea, to know that there was a very inspirational musician and dancer Kim Sung-jae, who left a deep impact on the next generation of producers, musicians, and current K-pop idol groups, with his extraordinary talent, fashionable style, and huge smile,” he said. “I hope people can search for this hidden gem of an artist, if they don’t yet know about him.”
“I sometimes think that Sung-jae is on a 30-year mission in the deep forest in the wild, or on another continent or a mission to Mars. It is my pleasure to let people know about this inspirational person, who’s my brother,” he added.
“I yearn for life as a cloud or the wind, which is formless yet still exists. I hope my brother eternally shines as a star and the Sun, and I hope to surround the star. I am just grateful that I am be able to be here for my children, and in that regard, I am truly blessed. Sometimes I feel sorry for my brother, who didn’t have the opportunity to have his own children. I am now twice as old as my late brother, but I still call him my hyung [Korean for big brother]. Because of my brother, I could live this life with more focus and concentration,” he said.
Kim Sung-wook, right, released his single “Rainshower,” commemorating the memory of his late brother, singer Kim Sung-jae. The photo, an official one for the single’s hard copy sleeve, was taken in 1995 with their mother, a few months before the sudden death of his brother that year.