‘Your Song’ (너의 노래는) is a special 4-part show that aired in January 2019 for 4 weeks on the Korean channel JTBC. More than anything, it is a short but powerful introduction to the potential of composer and musician Jung Jae Il (Okja, Parasite) and how he will revitalize Korean music in his own way.
In each of the episodes, we learn about Jung Jae Il as a person and as an artist, as well as his work with different people, such as famous balladeer Park Hyo Shin, the young female singer-songwriter IU, “Goblin” actress Kim Go Eun, and film director Bong Jun Ho. Each story of Jung Jae Il’s collaborations with these individuals is a musical journey that ends climactically with a live performance.
This article is a detailed summary of all 4 episodes, with links to the clips and music performed in each episode. The YouTube playlists are compilations of all official episode clips from JTBC, available to users outside of Korea.
Episode 1: Jung Jae Il & Park Hyo Shin
The episode introduces Jung Jae Il and offers a rare glimpse into his collaboration with Park Hyo Shin through candid interviews and their time in France together.
Jung Jae Il and Park Hyo Shin are secluded in an old mansion in a small village in France called La Pacaudiere, working on Park Hyo Shin’s 8th album back in 2018.
How Their Partnership Began
The two met in 2010 during the mandatory 2-year military service where they both served in the publicity division that many celebrities get assigned to. Park Hyo Shin mentions that he was the first to propose that they work together but Jung Jae Il declined multiple times because he felt his own music is not mainstream enough for a close collaboration.
But Jung Jae Il was convinced by their shared desire to try something different and to touch people with their music. And he was right to think so. Their synergy created a major hit called “Wildflower (야생화)”, with poignant lyrics, dramatic delivery, and powerful piano accompaniment.
On Their Artistic Process
When asked how they work together, Jung Jae Il bluntly points out that they simply do it. There are times when they try to plan out the songs, but they are most often created in an instant. But the flashes of inspiration don’t come on their own. We as the listeners only hear the final product and don’t always realize how great music – any great work – is only brought about through diligently and continuously labouring away. As Jung Jae Il mentions, there is the need to keep churning out something, coordinating with one another, and recording constantly – which is how songs like “Home” were made.
The pair talk about how Park Hyo Shin was playing a single note on the piano one day and Jung Jae Il started adding tunes to that note and forming the melody. They would take turns adding onto the music from one another, in a truly collaborative effort.
The collaboration isn’t always smooth sailing, however, as the next clip shows. The differences in opinions inevitably raise tensions in the process. They do manoeuvre the situation well by staying calm and respectful, and what isn’t shown in the clip is how they effortlessly break the tension in the end by simply going back to the music.
Park Hyo Shin Off-Stage
The episode also shows rare off-stage footage of Park Hyo Shin who generally does not make TV appearances in Korea other than for stage performances.
Music: Sound of Winter (겨울소리) – Abridged, Guitar Version
“Sound of Winter” is another song jointly created by Park Hyo Shin and Jung Jae Il, released on 1st January 2019. This guitar version sounds more enchanting compared to the piano only or original versions. A full English translated lyrics of Sound of Winter can be found on the linked page.
Music: Dream (꿈) – Practice Recording
“Dream” is one of the songs in Park Hyo Shin’s 7th album that Jung Jae Il took part in. This clip features a rare moment when Park Hyo Shin makes a mistake at the end.
Music: Wildflower (야생화) – Live
This performance marks the end of Episode 1 of “Your Song”. There are numerous live versions of “Wildflower” but this might be the most resonating one yet.
Episode 2: With IU, Lee Juck on Poetic Songs From the Past
Part 1: Jung Jae Il & IU
About The Song “개여울”
The song is taken from a poem by Kim So Wol (김소월) who died at the age of 32 in 1934 but left behind memorable classics such as “Azaleas (진달래꽃)”. The poem was made into a song and released in 1972 by Jung Mi Jo (정미조).
IU’s Interest in 개여울
Since her debut in 2008 at the age of 15, IU has matured into an artist in her own right. Her 4th album “Palette” included 10 songs of which she wrote 9 and demonstrated her status as a singer-songwriter to the public.
Her interest in songwriting extends to the simple yet lyrical songs that were popular in Korea well before her time. Her remake albums 꽃갈피 하나 (2014) and 꽃갈피 둘 (2017) represent the artist’s love for old songs and her desire for people to keep remembering them.
개여울 is a song in her second remake album 꽃갈피 둘 and how she ended up working with Jung Jae Il.
How IU & Jung Jae Il Re-Created 개여울
Jung Jae Il received a call from IU to request for a rearrangement of a song to go in her second remake album. After he declined the first song that IU suggested to him, she persisted and asked him if we would rearrange 개여울 instead. Jung Jae Il, hearing the song for the first time, was hooked by the song and agreed to work on the song.
Jung Jae Il initially suggested that they do a choir and add more dramatic flair to the song, but IU insisted that the song should maintain its quiet resignation and focus on the voice. Jung Jae Il’s rearrangement of the song stays true to this, as you can hear in the next video clip.
Music: 개여울 – Live
Part 2: Jung Jae Il & Lee Juck
Jung Jae Il & Lee Juck’s Relationship
When Jung Jae Il was only a teenager, he joined a newly formed band called Gigs with the top musicians in Korea at the time – including Lee Juk as the band’s singer. Even after they disbanded, Jung Jae Il continued to collaborate with Lee Juk and produced the entire 4th album by Panic, the male singing duo of Lee Juck and Kim Jin Pyo.
About the Song “작은 연못”
Jung Jae Il and Lee Juck sing the song by Kim Min Gi (김민기), an artist that they both respect. Kim Min Gi was a folk singer in the 1970s who had only a single album released at the age of 21. At a time when Korea was under military rule and heavy censorship, Kim Min Gi was one of the artists who wrote and sang songs that criticized the social restrictions and lack of freedom of speech.
The song “작은 연못” is about a small pond deep in the mountains where 2 goldfish fight, leaving one of them to die and nothing living there anymore.
Music: “작은 연못” – Live
Extra: Jung Jae Il Plays For Three
A short section of Episode 2 introduces another area of Jung Jae Il’s work, this time in small stage theatre. He was the music director for an experimental musical show called Club Salome in 2015, during which he single-handedly played the bass, drums, and guitar on “Inside Herod”. The performers – from ballerina to b-boy – improvised based on the music that Jung Jae Il himself improvised on each show.
Music: “Inside Herod” – Live
Episode 3: With Kim Go Eun, Jung Hoon Hee on Poetic Songs From the Past
Part 1: Jung Jae Il & Kim Go Eun
About the Song “가을을 남기고 간 사람”
The song is originally by Patti Kim, a female singer who debuted in 1959 by performing English songs at the US military base in Korea and has had a string of accomplishments in her long music career. Among other things, she was the first Korean singer to be invited by the Japanese government to perform after Korea gained independence from Japan and was also the first Asian artist to perform in Carnegie Hall in the US.
Jung Jae Il mentions in Episode 3 how he first heard the song, not in the original version, but played by a German cellist in the 1980’s.
Why Kim Go Eun
Jung Jae Il speaks about wanting the song to be sung in a subdued voice in comparison to the powerful style of the original Patti Kim version. He had heard through acquaintances that Kim Go Eun was a good singer and after hearing her sing, he decided her voice would fit what he had envisioned. She would be singing as if she was playing a role, without the need for any elaborate vocal techniques.
Kim Go Eun has been acting in a range of different roles since she began her career, rising to mainstream popularity with her role in the drama “Goblin”. She has in fact been consistently involved in music, participating in soundtracks of her dramas and movies and even singing a duet called 해, 달, 별 그리고 우리* with the beloved balladeer Shin Seung Hoon (신승훈).
*The link goes to a live version sung by Shin Seung Hoon and another female singer, not Kim Go Eun, as the original version that does not infringe any copyrights could not be found.
Music: “가을을 남기고 간 사람” – Full Music, Electric Guitar Version
Performed in the restored Seoul Station which is open to the public and houses various exhibitions.
Part 2: Jung Jae Il & Jung Hoon Hee
About the Song “세월이 가면”
In 1950’s Myeong Dong, when Korea was a struggling country, artists would get together in this little hub. Among them, 3 people created this song in 1956 through improvisation – one writing the lyrics, another composing the music, and the third person singing the song. The singer was Na Ae Shim (나애심), a popular singer/actress in the 1950s and 60s.
Who Is Jung Hoon Hee
Jung Jae Il and Jung Hoon Hee first met in Yoon Sang’s concert, where she was a special guest performer. Jung Hoon Hee debuted in 1967 at age 15 and was a famous diva especially in the 1970s. In 1970, she won an award at the International Music Festival in Tokyo and was the first Korean singer to win an international award abroad.
Music: “세월이 가면” – Full Song, Accompanied by Piano
Performed at a national modern art museum in 소격동.
Episode 4: Jung Jae Il as Music Director, The Rest of the Trip With Park Hyo Shin, Traditional Korean Music
Part 1: Jung Jae Il As Music Director
Music in Okja
Director Bong Joon Ho makes a special appearance to talk about the music in Okja and working with Jung Jae Il. Bong Joon Ho’s movies use music to accentuate emotions in the scenes and Okja wasn’t an exception. He mentions that he asked Jung Jae Il for diversity in the music for Okja, to accommodate the film’s diverse set of characters and locations ranging from a small village in Korea to the bustling city of New York.
Jung Jae Il talks about how the director’s intentions are the most important. His position on delivering what the creator envisions instead of pushing his own agenda makes him a collaborator that other creators would want to work with.
Music for His “Dearest”
While he was in France collaborating with Park Hyo Shin, Jung Jae Il takes a trip to Budapest’s Magyar Radio Studio 22, a studio inside the national radio station. It is where famous international orchestras get their recordings done, including for movies, and also where the orchestral music for Okja was recorded.
He is there this time though on a personal matter – to record with the youth choir and a pickup orchestra which he conducts personally. The piece is dedicated to someone special, whom he loves and respects but he doesn’t end up disclosing who that person is. We are left to wonder as we listen to this dedication entitled “Dearest.”
Part 2: Jung Jae Il & Park Hyo Shin
Park Hyo Shin on His Career
The episode goes back to Park Hyo Shin and Jung Jae Il in France from Episode 1, showing the rest of their trip together. In one interview, Park Hyo Shin opens up about his internal struggles as an artist, the self-doubt as he gets older and progresses with his music career. He reflects that he wants to work on music that is true to who he is and to share songs that can console and touch people when they are going through hard times.
Music: “Sound of Winter (겨울소리)” – Full Song, Accompanied by Piano Only
Part 3: Jung Jae Il & Traditional Korean Sounds
Music: “비나리” – Full Music
This traditional Korean music piece was performed for President Trump when he visited Korea in 2017. The music is remastered by Jung Jae Il’s arrangement that includes the piano and string quartet, the western instruments adding a more familiar sound to the traditional Korean instruments.
비나리 is a song to bring luck and ward off bad energy, a spell-binding finale performance that marks the end of the show.
Through his collaboration with both old and new artists, Jung Jae Il is making a wide range of Korean music more familiar and relatable to audiences. “Your Song” seems to offer a preview of the music that Jung Jae Il is capable of delivering to Korean and international audiences.
One can only feel immense anticipation for his future projects and the recognition he is bound to receive.
- Official JTBC “Your Song” Homepage (Korean Only): http://tv.jtbc.joins.com/yoursong
- Biography of Jung Jae Il: https://www.moinnet.com/en/unfamiliar-koreans/jung-jae-il/