By Kang Aa-young
For veteran rock star Jeon In-kwon, last year was eventful and even traumatic.
Jeon, 64, was mired in a controversy after endorsing politician Ahn Cheol-soo during the presidential race last year, leading him to face severe criticism from supporters of rival candidates.
In a recent interview, Jeon said he has fully recovered from the rueful experience while embarking on three great performances in three U.S. cities _ Palm Springs near Los Angeles, New Jersey and Atlanta.
"Some fans came to my concert in Palm Springs after a five-hour drive as their homes were far from the venue. There was also a Mexican-American fan who said she had listened to my music since 2004 and she herself came all the way to Palm Springs for my concert, leaving her husband and children at home," he said.
|Jeon In-kwon / Korea Times file|
Fans gave him standing ovations at his shows. He said the most touching moment came when he sang the old Korean War song, "Be Strong Geum-soon," about a couple in love who were separated by the war. "Fans were clapping with joy all during the concert. But all of sudden, they burst into tears as I sang the song. It was touching," he said.
Jeon said he has been offered to perform in seven U.S. cities next year and the opportunity to co-produce albums with an unnamed local producer who once worked with singer Beyonce.
If things go smoothly, Jeon said he could go to the U.S. again later this year to team up with the American musician who was quoted as saying his voice and music were unique.
His U.S. concerts come 32 years since his last U.S. performance in 1986 when he was lead vocalist of the band Deulgukwha.
The U.S. concerts were special for him. He had hard time getting a visa because of a previous drug use conviction. He was scheduled to perform in Carnegie Hall in New York last year, but it was canceled due to a visa application delay.
Things didn't go well last year.
Jeon faced a public backlash in April following a media interview where he made open his support for entrepreneur-turned-politician Ahn.
His remarks brought him unwanted attention, drawing severe criticism from the public mostly from supporters of Ahn's then-rival candidates, including President Moon Jae-in.
Jeon fell into depression which gripped him until recently.
Celebrities' open endorsement of presidential candidates is not common in Korea, as they are unwilling to reveal their political stance for fear of attracting unnecessary controversy.
As the attention faded away, Jeon faced another problem _ this time a plagiarism allegation.
Some critics allege his song "Don't Worry, My Dear" is very similar to a song by a German band from back in the 1970s.
At that time, he acknowledged the similarities between the two, but completely denied the plagiarism claim.
Jeon said he would like to become a world-class singer, revealing his wish to produce genuine music that can touch souls across all cultures.