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American singer-songwriter finds ‘accidental success’ in Korea

While Hallyu, or the Korean wave, has proven to be a major force, with South Korean music and entertainment content making a buzz around the world, music travels in the opposite direction too.

American singer-songwriter Jim Wolf, 39, is one example. He has found musical success in a place he never would have expected. 

Jim Wolf (Courtesy of the singer)
Jim Wolf (Courtesy of the singer)

“I didn’t actually have a distributor to get the song here. The more I look into it, the more I don’t know how it really began,” Wolf told The Korea Herald in an interview held Monday in Hongdae, western Seoul.

Wolf, who hails from the US East Coast, is currently in Seoul. He hopes to become more involved with the entertainment scene here.

The story of his unexpected success in Korea goes back to 2012, when he released the song “Make You My Lady.” Since 2014, the song has been featured in various TV productions here, including the drama “My Secret Romance” and the reality show “Heart Signal.”

“I think it is completely accidental,” Wolf said of his unexpected popularity here.

“I just think someone stumbled on it via the internet somehow. In America, when I released the song, it was comfortable, a soft release. I thought it was OK. But here, it was much more of a splash,” he recounted.

Wanting to be more connected with the city, he is visiting Seoul for the first time. He had his first live gig in Seoul on Friday at a club in the Hongdae area.

“I am coming to learn that (the audience) doesn’t know my face or my name but they know the melody of the song,” Wolf said. “I am actually meeting a publisher, one of the major label publishers. So they can sink more TV placements and movie stuff.”

Wolf is actually not the first foreign act to be successful here. Swedish singer-songwriter Lasse Lindh also found success in Korea after his song “C’mon Through” was used as background music for the MBC sitcom “Soulmate.”

Lindh has since worked closely with the TV scene here. He lived in Seoul for a year and even created background music for the TvN drama series “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.” Returning to Seoul for the first time in seven years, he held a solo concert on Friday.

Now, Wolf is planning to release new music here.

“I will be releasing a single called ‘Can’t Get Away From You’ here shortly. It’s a song I am really proud of. I think the first time you listen to it you’d think it’s a love song. But it’s about personal dealings with anxiety,” he said.

He expressed his gratitude to fans in Korea for opening doors for him.

“I just want to say thanks so much to everybody who has been listening to me. It doesn’t matter even if you don’t know who I am and even if it’s accidental. It truly means the world to me. It puts a lot of validation to what I do as an artist,” he said.

Wolf is to take the stage at the Yongsan South Post on Friday, before an audience of US soldiers and their families.