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Yim Jae-beom finds his voice after 7 years of isolation

Singer Yim Jae-beum conducts a press conference about his single
Singer Yim Jae-beum conducts a press conference about his single "Consolation" in Seoul on June 16. (Blue Seed Company)
Veteran Korean singer Yim Jae-beom has returned to the music scene in seven years with the new song “Consolation,” through which he hopes to not only heal others but himself as well.

Ahead of dropping the new song, Yim conducted a press conference on Friday afternoon to talk about the new song which marks the prologue to his newest “Seven,” album.

Yim’s last musical release was his 30th anniversary album “After The Sunset: White Night“ in November 2015. Yim has stayed away from the public light since his wife of 16 years passed away from cancer in June 2017.

Dressed up in a neat blue suit, with his long hair and beard grayed, the 59-year-old singer seemed more drawn than when he had last appeared in front of the media seven years ago.

“Following my last concert in February 2016, my wife passed away and, soon after, I lost my father as well, and I fell into an emotional state that I couldn’t control,” Yim said.

Yim’s label CEO, Kim Kyoung-ho, who was also present at Friday’s press conference, recalled meeting the singer, whom he described as “devastated,” in front of his house last year.

“I remember seeing Yim in the parking lot below his house early last year. He is in good shape right now, but back then he weighed 15-20 kilograms less. His hair was dangling around his waist and I was just shocked at how emaciated he looked,” Kim said, adding that Yim had seldom communicated with the outside world and was almost unable to sing after years of seclusion.

“It was very demanding for Yim, both mentally and physically, when we started preparing for the album. We had to think about various issues and overcome obstacles before he could recover physically and emotionally,” Kim, also a close partner of Yim, said.

What had pulled Yim out of the long, dark tunnel was his fans.

“I couldn’t sing nor watch TV, but I sometimes looked up the comments left by the fans and they were still waiting for me. I hadn’t announced a retirement, so it seemed like they believed I could be coming back,” Yim said.

After much persuasion and effort of Kim and other staff members of agency Blue Seed Co., Yim said he was able to slowly recover.

“Although I can’t say that I’m completely comfortable right now, I’m very grateful to the fans and the company (people) who have helped me get back on my feet,” Yim said.

The latest album -- “Seven,” -- is Yim’s seventh full-length album and it also represents a pause on the period of grief and desolation for the singer. A pre-release single from the album, “Consolation” celebrates his first step back into the light and marks the start of the release of 11 songs.

Just as the name says, Yim hopes to offer comfort with “Consolation,” and at the same time be healed through the song.

“We’ve all experienced a hard time with the coronavirus situation, and some of you may have overcome a loss of the family just like me,” Yim said. “And the label and I thought it would be the best that I could offer strength to listeners through this song, ‘Consolation.’ After all, I’m a singer, and what I can do for others is consolation through music.”

Yim also dropped a music video with the song, which premiered at the media event ahead of its release at 6 p.m. Friday.

“Singing in a very long while, it was the first time that I realized that singing could be so difficult. Even these days, when I’m recording, it hits me how hard it is,” Yim said.

Still struggling to regain full use of his voice, Yim said he is trying hard to deliver the emotions the lyrics carry, although it still might not convey the exact feelings lingering inside him.

“While I usually focus on voicing the exact emotions carried in the lyrics, this time, I had to try harder to control the sorrow inside me. I refrained from expressing too much emotions, and thought it was right for me to push down on my sadness and focus on delivering the song’s message,” he said.

The album is an 11-track LP that consists of songs of diverse genres, most of them ballads, a few of them rock, others in midtempo and several other experimentations in new genres.

“We’ve completed recording eight of the tracks, and still have three left to finish,” Yim said, adding that the album includes a variety of sounds and hope it appeals to the fans.

While speaking calmly about his new music, Yim seemed to find it hard to continue his sentences now and then, especially when he spoke about his emotions.

Yim described feeling completely lethargic in the past seven years.

“I think I just lay sprawled out because I couldn’t handle the weight over my shoulders. I couldn’t do anything and I didn’t want to, to be completely honest.”

He continued, saying, “The scar in my heart doesn’t seem to fade that easily. I’m still having a hard time, but it’s healing thanks to the help from those around me,” he said, pausing for a few seconds before finishing his statement. “I’ll try to pull myself together fast,” he said, his voice shaking.

Starting his music career in 1986 as the main vocalist of heavy metal band Sinawe, Yim made himself known as one of South Korea’s most seasoned rock singers and balladeers. Yim also worked with other bands over the years before releasing numerous solo singles.

Looking back on his 37 years as a musician, Yim said he is fated to do music.

“However hard I try to escape from music, I find myself coming back to it. Sometimes it feels like I haven’t achieved anything from it, while at other times, I feel like I have.”

Still fighting to overcome the sadness inside him, Yim said he is trying his best.

“The most important issue from now is completing the seventh album, preparing for the concert and, if I do get the chance, take part in TV shows and recover my health and voice step by step,” he said. “Hopefully I could fill the gap that I left, bit by bit, for my fans.”

Returning the love and support from fans who have waited for him, Yim said he is planning a concert around October and November this year.

“I’m thankful to all my fans who have waited for me in silence, even though I abruptly announced a new album through the press and I don’t communicate earnestly with them. Thank you so much for rejoicing over the album and fully supporting me,” he said. “I’m sure there will come the time when I could meet the fans soon.”

By Choi Ji-won (
catch table
Korea Herald daum