Sanwoolim Kim Chang-hoon poses at a cafe in Gangnam on January 26. By Jeong Hyuk-jun
‘Sanwoollim’, ‘Three Brothers’ and ‘Three Things’. When I interviewed Sanwoolim Kim Chang-hoon right before the Lunar New Year, three words that felt similar came to mind. Kim Chang-hoon suddenly asked what are the three reasons why Sanullim is still loved by many even 45 years after its formation. He asked himself and answered himself. “I think there are three. The first is the uninterrupted activities of hyung (Kim Chang-wan). He went beyond being a musician and communicated and interacted with the public through acting, radio DJ, writing, and painting. It also made Sanwoolim to be remembered by the public.” It reminded me of his older brother, Kim Chang-wan, who looked like the messy-looking man next door. “The second is that younger musicians have reinterpreted the songs of Sanwoollim and made many remakes. Thanks to such junior musicians, Sanwoolim songs are still being consumed.” The song ‘Your Meaning’ sung by IU suddenly came to mind. “I think the third is the fan base centered on ‘Sanwoollim Mania’ who still likes and supports Sanwoollim.” Sanwoolim Mania (Sanmae), a fan club formed in 2003, is still active. Kim Chang-hoon is an inseparable being from Sanwoolim. Kim Chang-hoon (vocals, bass) made his debut in 1977 with his older brother Kim Chang-wan (vocals, guitar) and younger brother Kim Chang-ik (drums) to form the three-brother band Sanwoolim. “I lived in a redevelopment neighborhood in Heukseok-dong, Seoul. We went to school on weekdays, and on the weekends, the three brothers played music as if they were playing. My older brother played the guitar, and I accidentally found out about the bass and played it, and the youngest had nothing to do, so we played while pounding on dictionaries, reference books, and notebooks.”
Singers Kim Wan-sun (left) and Kang Su-ji. Reporter Lee Jung-yong
Kim Chang-hoon joined a food company after participating in Sanwoolim activities. While at work, he continued his music activities in his spare time, producing Kim Wan-sun’s first and second albums. “In 1985, I was working as an assistant manager for a food company. He asked me to make a debut album for my nephew. I made it because there were songs I had been collecting for a while.” Kim Wan-sun gained great popularity by singing ‘Tonight’ and ‘I’m Alone in Front of the Garden’, which were written and composed by Kim Chang-hoon, with a brilliant dance, unique tone and singing method.
Sanwoolim practicing before a performance at a studio in Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul in December 2005. From left, Kim Chang-wan, Kim Chang-ik, and Kim Chang-hoon. By Kang Jae-hoon
After that, while living as expatriates in the United States, the three brothers gathered again to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sanwoolim in 2006 to prepare their 14th album. However, the youngest member, Kim Chang-ik, died in a car accident in Canada that year, and Sanwoolim was disbanded. The three brothers wanted to release 100 albums when they debuted, but their 13th album was their last. We asked Chang-Hoon Kim what was the most memorable Sanwoollim song. “There is a rough song ‘My Heart (My Heart is a Wasteland)’ that was released on the 3rd album. It was the first song I debuted as a vocalist, and it was evaluated as a hard rock song. In the same album, ‘You Are Already Me’ is a song that is 18 minutes and 40 seconds long, and it was played with a young spirit. The 7th album ‘Monologue’ is a song that I love and want to sing anytime, anywhere. The last one is ‘I don’t know why I’m here’ in the last 13th album, which is a disappointing song.”
Kim Chang-hoon is singing a poem on YouTube. Sanullim TV Capture
He also served as an executive at a food company, and retired a few years ago. Since May of last year, he has been uploading poetry songs made into songs on the YouTube channel ‘Sanullim TV’. Why do you post poetry songs on YouTube? “Fashion designers need fabric to make good clothes. For singers, cloth is the material for writing lyrics. I have a strong desire to compose, but I needed a good writing feeling to contain this desire. Then I saw the poetry book. It was like a treasure island to me.” Poet Jeong Hyeon-jong’s ‘Visitor’ was made into a poetry song for the first time. If you look at the poems he posted, Ho-seung Jeong’s ‘The Scenery is Sweet’, Ki Hyung-do’s ‘Empty House’, Kim Soo-young’s ‘Love’, Shin Hyeon-rim’s ‘7 Seconds Hug’, Ahn Do-hyeon’s ‘Ask You’, Cheon Sang-byeong’s ‘Gwicheon’, Yun Dong-ju ‘Letter’ by Baekseok and ‘Me, Natasha and the White Donkey’ by Baek Seok, and other 167 songs (as of February 7th). He said that while composing a song with poetry, a verse of a poem came closer to me stronger than a hundred words. “I made ‘Poetry for Daughters’ by poet Ma Jong-ha and ‘To Daughters’ by poet Chul Park into songs. A verse of a poem touches my heart more than a hundred educational words. I thought it would be good to keep it in my heart for the sake of educating my children.” It seems that Kim Chang-hoon and poetry are destined to meet ‘without a fuss’. “Since the time of Sanwoollim, I have avoided difficult words and made songs in the easy Korean language we know as much as possible. If you don’t know the meaning, be sure to look it up in the dictionary. In the lyrics of Sanwoolim’s song ‘Monologue’, ‘Wandering here and there, I will be left alone’ appears. In the lyrics, ‘without having to do anything’ doesn’t mean ‘inevitably’. It also means ‘without doubt’. You need to know this exact meaning to accurately express the mood and meaning of the song.” While making poetry songs, he came to know the influence of poetry, and said that he wished that the good influence of poetry could reach more people. “In the meantime, I have only made my own stories into music. I was just preoccupied with being satisfied with my creativity. It’s a little different now. Actually, it’s not easy to keep making poetry songs. But I do it thinking that it is an altruistic work for others. I think poetry is a tool that gives many people a rich heart.” He also said that singers and poets have similarities. “I think a poet is a lonely person. The same goes for singers who write lyrics or compose music. When I write poetry, I feel like I am with the poet. I also want to introduce the poet’s loneliness.”