Extra! Korea

July 1, 2009

Mixed-heritage celebrities Insooni and Kang Soo-il

Filed under: celebrities, multicultural society, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 3:31 am

The Chosun Ilbo and Korea Times have articles about Insooni, a famous singer, and the Times also has one about Kang Soo-il, a soccor player. Both celebrities have Korean mothers and African-American fathers.

Among [Insooni’s] other activities is acting as an adviser to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation Korea. Having never met her African-American father, Insooni knows the hardships faced by cross-cultural children. Still, she says she holds no grudge against her father. “My father was a soldier who came to Korea to help the country. I received help from the Pearl S. Buck Foundation when I was young, from scholarships to help fund my studies to counseling when I needed advice. I believe it’s my turn to give back what I was given. I look after children of foreign nationalities and children of migrant workers.”

I’m not a big fan of Insooni’s genre of music, but I love her as a person. Here are some great quotes.

“I want to be a singer with womanly charms when I’m as old as a grandmother. My rivals are all younger than me. I think young singers can be good teachers for me as well,” she says.

That’s a great attitude to have, but I hope that doesn’t mean she’ll be attempting the “Tell Me” or “Gee” dances.

“Young singers don’t know much about the past, but it’s important to understand the basics. We have to appreciate history but we tend to forget the past too quickly. It’s like standing on sand, not knowing when the popularity will fade. We are all too focused on the latest trends and when one trend passes, everything just disappears, from the singers to the bands to the songwriters,” she said.

Spot on. Current Korean pop stars tend to be Koreans who are imitating Koreans who are imitating recently-famous Americans. There’s no awareness of history. Super Junior mimicking g.o.d. mimicking New Kids on the Block. Who are these “Commodores” you’re referring to?

She added that local reporters tend to be hasty when giving nicknames to singers, such as the “King of Ballads,” “The Queen of Dance” and even calling a young singer “sexy.”

[ snip ]

When asked what she thought of her nickname “Korea’s Madonna,” Insooni shook her head and said, “No, I’m Korea’s Insooni, and always will be.”

Good for her. More and more Koreans need to be rejecting ridiculous titles like “Korea’s Ricky Martin.”


  1. I know. Now my cup of tea, but her talent is undeniable. She probably has the best voice amongst the Korean pop singers. She knows music a heck pretty well, too. Remember a few years back when did a cover of this one?

    PS. I know, her version was closer to Tina Turner’s version…which is also great.

    Comment by Teadrinker — July 1, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  2. I agree, korean pop music is incredibly derivative of some forms of not-so-great american pop, which ITSELF is very derivative of black music (what used to be called “race music”). So, yeah, they don’t really have a sense of history or of how incredibly derivative their music is…

    Also I think that Insooni is a great role model for Koreans, and a great spokesperson for those of mixed race ancestry, as she lives out the legacy of military interventions in her very body.

    Comment by Brain Demon — February 17, 2010 @ 7:51 am

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