Seo Tai-ji Returns Blinking to the Limelight

      August 04, 2008 10:24

      Seo Tai-ji sings during an impromptu concert in front of COEX in Samseong-dong, Soul on Friday afternoon. /Yonhap

      "When I heard that there are teenagers who don't know who Seo Tai-ji is, I was quite surprised. I used to be a teen idol at one point in my life, and now I'm nobody for them. I guess that just goes to show how much time has passed." Thus one of the most popular singers in the history of Korean pop music, during a press conference at a hotel in Seoul on Sunday.

      Seo recently released his eighth album, a triumphant return after a virtual absence of four years and six months since his last album. He still seems awed by the changes that happened in his absence. During a surprise gig for an MBC show on Friday, looking at crowd of some 5,000, he said, "I'm excited, but I feel a bit awkward about being on stage in front of my fans again."

      Seo spent two years traveling and two working on his album. Because he is still not comfortable with the attention he gets on the streets, he chose places that see few Koreans: the Moon Valley in northern Chile was the most memorable. His admits he would prefer to die while backpacking around the world. The title song "Moai" from the new album "Atomos part Moai" was inspired by the monolithic human figures in the Easter Island, though in fact, he went to there for the first time to shoot the music video.

      "I tried to capture the miracle of nature and curiosity about supernatural beings that I felt during my trips in my music for this album," he says. Asked about the charge that the album lacks the strong experimental streak usually found in his music, Seo asked audiences to hold back their criticism and listen a bit more. "I can confidently say that I tried to experiment as much as I could on this album, and more so than on any previous ones."

      He has, however, reluctantly turned his back on reflecting social issues in his music, so there will be no ditties about street protests against the import of U.S. beef. "I can't anymore, because it would be too outdated by the time it comes out. It used to take seven or eight months, but now it takes me two years to write the lyrics and compose the music."

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