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To all girls, take pride in yourselves

Kang Eun-il, artistic director of Seoul Donwhamun Traditional Theater and a traditional string instrument Haegeum player, plays Haegeum during a press conference on Wednesday to announce her upcoming performance on motherhood. Yonhap
Kang Eun-il, artistic director of Seoul Donwhamun Traditional Theater and a traditional string instrument Haegeum player, plays Haegeum during a press conference on Wednesday to announce her upcoming performance on motherhood. Yonhap

Haegum performance on motherhood

By Park Ji-won

Kang Eun-il, artistic director of Seoul Donwhamun Traditional Theater and the player of the traditional string instrument haegeum, said Wednesday that through her upcoming haegeum performance, she aims to convey a message of empowerment to women and girls.

"I would like to tell my daughter, who has been suffering from self-destructive thoughts about her appearance and experiences since her adolescent years, that being a woman is a valuable experience because women are (innately) creative," Kang said during a press conference Wednesday held before her upcoming concert titled "Ancient futures: Stories of my mother, grandmother and great grandmother" at ARKO Arts Theater on Feb. 22 and 23.

Five original songs themed on women will be played on haegeum and a variety of instruments in various musical forms, including EDM. She said she would like to share her relatives' stories with women of all ages.

Haegeum is a traditional Korean two-string instrument.

Kang, a professor of Dankook University School of Music and a third daughter herself, recalled that she was raised in a patriarchal society in which boys were given preference over girls, which triggered insecurity and made it hard to build confidence during her adolescent years.

"I was only able to be born because my parents and grandparents thought that I may be a boy, not a girl (because at that time baby gender tests were not available)… My grandmother had to eat left-over meals after all her male family members finished their meals…. I had no confidence about myself because I was short and was not smart and was not good-looking."

However, after giving birth to two children, one girl and one boy, she said she thought that she has fulfilled her duty as a woman and realized that it is okay to be herself.

"To my daughter, and to all daughters, I would like to say that you don't need to outperform others or be perfect. You are beautiful as you are and deserve to live happily."

Kang's show will feature works from various composers and genres, including Kim Sung-kook, Donald Womack, Moises Bertran and Woody Pak. Han Jin-gu, her son and a composer, composed the opening song for the performance.

Winning the grand prize at Dong-A Music Competition in 1988 and then KBS Kukak Awards, she became the nation's top haegeum player. She even performed with Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007).

She has broadened her musical horizons by performing with other artists to prove that the traditional musical instrument can gel with other modern, western musical instruments.

The EDM song "4 Generations," in particular, which was composed by Woody Pak, as a second-generation Korean American, composer and music professor here, who witnessed his female family members suffering as immigrants, tells the stories about women over four generations.

Tickets priced between 20,000 and 40,000 are available now. Call 02-3668-0007 for more information.


Kang Eun-il, artistic director of Seoul Donwhamun Traditional Theater and a traditional string instrument Haegeum player, plays Haegeum during a press conference on Wednesday to announce her upcoming performance on motherhood. Yonhap
Kang Eun-il, artistic director of Seoul Donwhamun Traditional Theater and a traditional string instrument Haegeum player, plays Haegeum during a press conference on Wednesday to announce her upcoming performance on motherhood. Yonhap

Haegum performance on motherhood

By Park Ji-won

Kang Eun-il, artistic director of Seoul Donwhamun Traditional Theater and the player of the traditional string instrument haegeum, said Wednesday that through her upcoming haegeum performance, she aims to convey a message of empowerment to women and girls.

"I would like to tell my daughter, who has been suffering from self-destructive thoughts about her appearance and experiences since her adolescent years, that being a woman is a valuable experience because women are (innately) creative," Kang said during a press conference Wednesday held before her upcoming concert titled "Ancient futures: Stories of my mother, grandmother and great grandmother" at ARKO Arts Theater on Feb. 22 and 23.

Five original songs themed on women will be played on haegeum and a variety of instruments in various musical forms, including EDM. She said she would like to share her relatives' stories with women of all ages.

Haegeum is a traditional Korean two-string instrument.

Kang, a professor of Dankook University School of Music and a third daughter herself, recalled that she was raised in a patriarchal society in which boys were given preference over girls, which triggered insecurity and made it hard to build confidence during her adolescent years.

"I was only able to be born because my parents and grandparents thought that I may be a boy, not a girl (because at that time baby gender tests were not available)… My grandmother had to eat left-over meals after all her male family members finished their meals…. I had no confidence about myself because I was short and was not smart and was not good-looking."

However, after giving birth to two children, one girl and one boy, she said she thought that she has fulfilled her duty as a woman and realized that it is okay to be herself.

"To my daughter, and to all daughters, I would like to say that you don't need to outperform others or be perfect. You are beautiful as you are and deserve to live happily."

Kang's show will feature works from various composers and genres, including Kim Sung-kook, Donald Womack, Moises Bertran and Woody Pak. Han Jin-gu, her son and a composer, composed the opening song for the performance.

Winning the grand prize at Dong-A Music Competition in 1988 and then KBS Kukak Awards, she became the nation's top haegeum player. She even performed with Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007).

She has broadened her musical horizons by performing with other artists to prove that the traditional musical instrument can gel with other modern, western musical instruments.

The EDM song "4 Generations," in particular, which was composed by Woody Pak, as a second-generation Korean American, composer and music professor here, who witnessed his female family members suffering as immigrants, tells the stories about women over four generations.

Tickets priced between 20,000 and 40,000 are available now. Call 02-3668-0007 for more information.


Park Ji-won jwpark@koreatimes.co.kr


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