Fingerstyle Guitarists & Musicians in South Korea

   There is something beautiful happening here in South Korea, and around the world. It's one of the "hidden gems" that can only be found because someone told you about it.

   I was fortunate to have met Yohan Song, a South Korean Fingerstyle Guitarist who actually lives in Pretoria, South Africa. Wait. What?

   Before I tell you how I met Yohan let me fill you in about what Fingerstyle Guitar is all about. Let's just go to Wikipedia for some text:

   Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking (plucking individual notes with a single plectrum, commonly called a "pick"). 

   Because individual digits play notes on the guitar rather than the hand working as a single unit (which is the case when a guitarist is holding a single pick), a guitarist playing fingerstyle can perform several musical elements simultaneously. One definition of the technique has been put forward by the Toronto (Canada) Fingerstyle Guitar Association:

   Physically, "Fingerstyle" refers to using each of the right hand fingers independently to play the multiple parts of a musical arrangement that would normally be played by several band members. Deep bass notes, harmonic accompaniment (the chord progression), melody, and percussion can all be played simultaneously when playing Fingerstyle.

   Just for the record, I, too, am a fingerstyle guitarist. I also play rhythm guitar with a plectrum/pick. The two songs I've linked you to are from my CD called, Song of the Lark, with flutist Sue Hurwitz. 

   So for the guitarists out there reading this, and the music lovers too, I'd like to introduce a few of the very skilled and talented musicians in South Korea who are bringing beautiful guitar music to the forefront. 


   I met Yohan indirectly by way of my good friends in Africa, the vocal acapella group Amavevane Acapella.  They were both performing on the same night at the same venue in South Africa.

   Yohan was about to tour in South Korea at the same time that I would be there. What a strange world indeed. I was very encouraged by the fact that Yohan and Future, the artistic director of Amavevane Acapella had already found their way to meeting each other. A connection was already made. A little spark was ignited. I wanted to follow-up.

   Yohan and I began a correspondence. Yohan's tour schedule was packed full but we managed to settle on a date when I would attend a performance in Seoul. We planned to speak in person before the concert. The meeting was brief but just enough to make a more personal connection and to instill hopes for a three-way collaboration in the future as part of The Healing Light Project. 

   Yohan played beautifully and was well received by a number of fans in the audience. The concert took place in a local bookstore/cafe. I estimated the audience numbered around seventy. Not too shabby!

   Sadly this site will not let me upload a longer clip but you can get a taste of Yohan's playing from the clip below. Please be sure to find Yohan on line!



   Ziuk Hwang actually opened the evening for Yohan. I didn't get a chance to speak to him personally but he seems like a very friendly guy. I didn't understand any of the spoken introductions between songs (the entire evening!) but from the laughter I assessed that Ziuk has a good sense of humor. He is also a skilled and talented Fingerstyle Guitarist. Enjoy the video clip below.


   To my surprise and delight I was approached at the very end of the concert by a lovely woman, Ms. Lee Soon Do, and her daughter, Kim Ji Hee. I quickly understood that Ki Jim Hee is also a Fingerstyle Guitarist. A pretty good one at that!

   Ms. Lee Soon Do invited me out for a chat at a local cafe. As neither of us were very good in either Korean or English we enlisted the help of Google Translate. Thank goodness for technology, right?

   In our brief chat I learned that Kim Ji Hee faces certain social and mental challenges. She is diagnosed as having an "intellectual disability". Already as a toddler it seemed she was a slow learner. As she grew it became apparent that she was "different". School life was not easy for her; it was also hard for her to make friends. At some point she was introduced to the guitar.

   Today Kim Ji Hee is playing superbly and performing all around South Korea. She plays in support of people and organizations to raise awareness about people with disabilities. This is her way of instilling hope. Here is an article about her that I found online.

   Following up I visited Kim Ji Hee's web pages. She is doing great. I am hoping that one day we can get her over to Israel for some joint concerts with Tofa'ah. Perhaps she will be the catalyst that inspires greater awareness about the needs of children and young adults with different abilities in Israel!

Click on this LINK to hear Kim Ji Hee play the guitar. You can also visit her YouTube Channel

   Another fabulous fingerstyle guitarist who also was in attendance at Yohan's concert is Eunsung Kim.  Eunsung Kim is Kim Ji Hee's guitar teacher. He confirmed that learning to play the guitar worked as a wonderful therapy for Ji Hee. So let's hear it for the much overlooked music teachers and therapeutic musicians in this world. Music reaches people in a way that nothing else can. 

Click on this LINK for a beautiful performance by Eunsung Kim. You can also visit his YouTube channel for more! 

   I'd like to mention that there is a certain district in Seoul where you can go to hear "live" street musicians. I trekked over there one night. Unfortunately it was already late but I found two acts still out there singing and playing their hearts out. Sadly my camera/phone was again full and I could not get any video footage.

   I really liked the fact that the city has organized this street with little inlets. The musicians  set themselves up in each individual station. People can enjoy one act after the next as they walk along the street. Obviously these talented musicians are also out there earning a living. So be sure to drop a few bills their way before you move on to the next act. This is a wonderful way to support the Arts, especially musicians.

   So if you're interested in hearing some really  talented musicians get yourself over to the Hongdae District!


   South Korea been quite enlightening. I would like to add one more "hidden gem" to the list, my tour guide, Kyung Hyun "Brian" Min. 

   I met Brian when I signed up for his tour of the Gangnam District in Seoul. We got to talking and I found out that Brian can sing! Not only that, he also composes and arranges music for acapella vocal groups. Well, okay, he did this when he was in college and not so much anymore. Brian has become a wonderful new Korean friend to me. I would like to encourage him to pick up where he left off in his college years and maybe join in on some musical collaborative efforts too! I think when you see the clip below you will agree! Thank for all your amazing help Brian! 

Happy Musical Days ahead to you all! 


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