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At 50, forgotten Korean-American singer compares to G-Dragon

Singer Yang Joon-il sang his song
Singer Yang Joon-il sang his song "Rebecca" on MBC's "Show! Music Core," Saturday. Capture from Naver TV account of "Show! Music Core."

By Dong Sun-hwa

It took nearly 30 years for Yang Joon-il to gain fame as a singer thanks to YouTube. The Korean-American, now 50, has appeared on the recent edition of MBC's "Show! Music Core," a program mostly for young and hip K-pop artists, and performed his 1991 debut song "Rebecca" gaining enthusiastic reactions from the audience.

On YouTube, his early performance video of the song went viral and has since surpassed 2.5 million views. In the video, he is as young as current K-pop artists, singing whilst doing some seemingly impossible dance moves that were absent from his Music Core performance.

Now, he has been dubbed the "G-Dragon of the 1990s," named after G-Dragon of hugely successful K-pop band BIGBANG.

Watch the video: bit.ly/2rH29Zj

Yang couldn't believe it ― virtually waking up one morning to find himself famous. During his packed media meeting Dec. 31 at Sejong University in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, he sobbed: "Is everyone here to see me? I thought only three to five reporters would be here, so it is shocking to see so many of you. In fact, this is my first press conference."

He said that he and his family are having a hard time adjusting to his sudden fame.
Singer Yang Joon-il poses for pictures during a press conference on Dec. 31 at Sejong University, Seoul. Yonhap
Singer Yang Joon-il poses for pictures during a press conference on Dec. 31 at Sejong University, Seoul. Yonhap

"I don't think I can figure out the reason why people suddenly like me and my song, and, if I try to do so, I might discover a formula. Then, I would succumb to that formula and lose the magic," Yang said.

Still, Yang showed he was not overcome by the fame that had eluded him when he was in his 20s during his recent appearance on JTBC's "Two Yoo Project: Sugar Man," which tracks and features memorable singers of yesteryear. Asked what he would say to his fame-chasing young self of 30 years ago, he said: "My message to younger Yang ― who wanted to become a famous singer ― is to empty his mind and accept the reality. The more you get, the more you desire."

When Yang began his singing career, he released dozens of tracks including "Dance with Me Miss" (1992), "GaNaDaRaMaBaSa" (1992) and "Fantasy" (2001) with no big hits. His long hair and dazzling outfits rubbed the audience the wrong way. Some openly took offense at his performance or nationality. He was denied a visa, with the immigration official saying, "I don't want a foreigner like you to work in Korea and take away Koreans' opportunities."

Yang headed back to the U.S. and he has been working as a waiter at a Floridian restaurant.

"But I have always missed Korea, since there were people who supported and took good care of me for no reason," he said. "I did face hardships in Korea, but there was the warmth that I couldn't feel in America."

The singer also hinted at his future at the event.

"I will publish a book about myself so that I can put my thoughts into words," Yang said. "I am also planning to collect my previous numbers, arrange and record them again to re-release in the form of physical album."

Fans flocked to Sejong University to attend the singer's fan meeting, which was set to take place after the press event. Yonhap
Fans flocked to Sejong University to attend the singer's fan meeting, which was set to take place after the press event. Yonhap



Singer Yang Joon-il sang his song
Singer Yang Joon-il sang his song "Rebecca" on MBC's "Show! Music Core," Saturday. Capture from Naver TV account of "Show! Music Core."

By Dong Sun-hwa

It took nearly 30 years for Yang Joon-il to gain fame as a singer thanks to YouTube. The Korean-American, now 50, has appeared on the recent edition of MBC's "Show! Music Core," a program mostly for young and hip K-pop artists, and performed his 1991 debut song "Rebecca" gaining enthusiastic reactions from the audience.

On YouTube, his early performance video of the song went viral and has since surpassed 2.5 million views. In the video, he is as young as current K-pop artists, singing whilst doing some seemingly impossible dance moves that were absent from his Music Core performance.

Now, he has been dubbed the "G-Dragon of the 1990s," named after G-Dragon of hugely successful K-pop band BIGBANG.

Watch the video: bit.ly/2rH29Zj

Yang couldn't believe it ― virtually waking up one morning to find himself famous. During his packed media meeting Dec. 31 at Sejong University in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, he sobbed: "Is everyone here to see me? I thought only three to five reporters would be here, so it is shocking to see so many of you. In fact, this is my first press conference."

He said that he and his family are having a hard time adjusting to his sudden fame.
Singer Yang Joon-il poses for pictures during a press conference on Dec. 31 at Sejong University, Seoul. Yonhap
Singer Yang Joon-il poses for pictures during a press conference on Dec. 31 at Sejong University, Seoul. Yonhap

"I don't think I can figure out the reason why people suddenly like me and my song, and, if I try to do so, I might discover a formula. Then, I would succumb to that formula and lose the magic," Yang said.

Still, Yang showed he was not overcome by the fame that had eluded him when he was in his 20s during his recent appearance on JTBC's "Two Yoo Project: Sugar Man," which tracks and features memorable singers of yesteryear. Asked what he would say to his fame-chasing young self of 30 years ago, he said: "My message to younger Yang ― who wanted to become a famous singer ― is to empty his mind and accept the reality. The more you get, the more you desire."

When Yang began his singing career, he released dozens of tracks including "Dance with Me Miss" (1992), "GaNaDaRaMaBaSa" (1992) and "Fantasy" (2001) with no big hits. His long hair and dazzling outfits rubbed the audience the wrong way. Some openly took offense at his performance or nationality. He was denied a visa, with the immigration official saying, "I don't want a foreigner like you to work in Korea and take away Koreans' opportunities."

Yang headed back to the U.S. and he has been working as a waiter at a Floridian restaurant.

"But I have always missed Korea, since there were people who supported and took good care of me for no reason," he said. "I did face hardships in Korea, but there was the warmth that I couldn't feel in America."

The singer also hinted at his future at the event.

"I will publish a book about myself so that I can put my thoughts into words," Yang said. "I am also planning to collect my previous numbers, arrange and record them again to re-release in the form of physical album."

Fans flocked to Sejong University to attend the singer's fan meeting, which was set to take place after the press event. Yonhap
Fans flocked to Sejong University to attend the singer's fan meeting, which was set to take place after the press event. Yonhap



Dong Sun-hwa sunhwadong@koreatimes.co.kr


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