Patti Kim Marks 50th Anniversary of Singing Career

Singer Patti Kim smiles at a press conference to announce a concert to mark the 50th anniversary of her singing debut, at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Songong-dong, Seoul on Monday. /Newsis Singer Patti Kim smiles at a press conference to announce a concert to mark the 50th anniversary of her singing debut, at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Songong-dong, Seoul on Monday. /Newsis
Pop diva Patti Kim will perform at the Grand Hall of Sejong Center for the Performing Arts from April 30 to May 2 to mark the 50th anniversary of her singing career.

"Singers can only relax when they're performing onstage. I feel a little tense today, even though I've been singing before audiences for 50 years. I feel as if I were beginning all over again with the same feelings of curiosity, anxiety, fear and tension that I felt when I debuted 50 years ago. I'm really delighted and happy now."

Kim debuted in 1959 when she performed for American soldiers stationed in South Korea. The next year she was invited to appear on Japan's NHK TV; three years after that she was invited to sing on the Johnny Carson Show in the U.S. and perform in Las Vegas. She was "Korea's first" in all these appearances and performances.

Kim is 70 years old this year, but at a glance it's difficult to guess her age. That's thanks to a regimen of "rigorous training," she said, of fast walking, swimming and yoga. Every day she walks for more than an hour and swims more than one km.

She has been able to perform onstage for 50 years because she has endured hardships and exercised self-restraint. "These days, women talk about having an 'S-line' figure (meaning a lean, well-proportioned figure with a narrow waist)," she said with laugh. "(When I debuted), I had a large 'S-line' figure myself."

"Singers have to sing well, first and foremost, and always remain faithful to their onstage performances. Regrettably, we're living in a changed world where singers have become commodities. It's hard to find young singers who are ready to dedicate everything to singing onstage. I don't like this trend. Singing is my destiny and vocation. Without such a firm resolve, it's hard for you to continue singing for 10 or 20 years, or longer."

One of her dreams is to give a solo concert in Pyongyang. "I've heard that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is a fan of my hit song 'Farewell.' I hope to sing that song in Pyongyang during my lifetime."

When asked about her most difficult moment as a singer, Kim recounted her experience performing in Japan in the 1960s. She was the first South Korean singer to have been invited to Japan since the national liberation.

"At the time, the Japanese still called Koreans 'Josenjin' (a derogatory term). I tried to maintain my dignity as a Korean. I was already very tall, but I went out in high-heeled shoes and put up my hair to try to look much bigger and taller than the Japanese."

On the 50th anniversary of the start of her singing career, Kim will next month release a new CD featuring two new songs. "Singing has always supported me," she said. "I owe what I am today to my fans who've always stood by my side."

englishnews@chosun.com / 3 25, 2008 07:36 KST