There was a young boy who always sat in front of television watching movies in every night. He loved movies and the music in those movies and dreamed to be a movie director. He said, “I am not a movie director now, but when the time comes, I think someone may ask me to make a movie. Then I will say, YES.” Now, about thirty years later, to the public, this young boy is recognized in various roles as pop columnist, music critic, and love counselor. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Kim Taehoon (KIM) and talked about his outlook on life.
SMT You have various names which express who you are in different ways. Some university students think doing new things are something burdensome. How could you take on all these challenges?
KIM Whenever I am asked this question, I want to ask you students, 'why do you worry about how I can do it well or not?' I just want to do what I want. The next thing depends on the world. The public may evaluate what you do. If I do poorly, then no one will entrust me awith a task. Then I will think that I don’t have ability in that part. For example, when I worked as a music critic, the producer Yoon Seonwon asked me to introduce music on his radio program. He thought just introducing music was not interesting for young people, so he put love counseling as one of the methods to introduce music. It is not what I had done before, but I thought it would be fun, so I just did it. Also, I am not exactly a film critic, but I am doing a film program. I just started this because I like talking freely, as you know, if see that program. Thus, I don’t worry about what I do or will do. If something looks interesting, then I might do it, and the evaluation of my work is the task of the public.
SMT So now you are a writer of two love counseling books. These days, there are some students who do not want to love. What do you think about this situation?
KIM Exactly, having a romantic relationship is the most ineffective thing in the world. It is a waste of time and even the expenditure of emotion. However, the most interesting thing in our life is an act that is unnecessary. These days, young students tend to do necessary things. I think life is living delightfully. To live well 10 years into the future, we have to know how to enjoy today. When I say this, some students ask me, “What can we do in our real situation?” I feel pitiable to see them. Then who can save them? Where are funny things like love? I think they delude themselves that there is something to banish their life’s anxiety. They think if they get a certificate, the anxiety will disappear. Life is always choosing the method of how to endure that anxiety and doing what we want. Maybe if you think social success is the most important thing in your life, then what is the meaning of social success? Eventually, it is what you want.
SMT When I read your books, which dealt with love counseling, the writings were mainly from the man’s point of view. What would you to advise SMU students who read this interview?
KIM Men are essentially children. Many women make an ideal man in their imagination and think this childish man will be an ideal man. However, this is not realistic love. I think women should see a man as he is. Instead, there is another merit in childish men. They are funny. I want women to see their merits closely and enjoy love and romantic relationships. When a woman’s ideal type and fantasy of marriage are bigger, they tend to make men materialistic. That is, they want to actualize their ideal through their man, so men are being solitary. Then, they leave because they can’t find love and comfort in her. The main point of love is to not try tochange someone.
SMT Now, let’s change our subject to film. There are some values when people watch and evaluate film. What is the important thing when you evaluate a commercial or artistic film?
KIM It is ‘Fun.’ For example, the Avengers and Iron man are so interesting. We don’t need to see artistic things in these films because they have fun. When we see the movies Armageddon or Independence Day, they are very childish. They are commercial movies, but they could be made well. They need something fresh to attract cinema audiences. They are same commercial films, but not fun movies. In the case of Iron man 3, there are worries of the hero or things lacking in him. And this film is a boxoffice hit because of those factors which are different with other commercial movies. In an artistic film, the movie which is to look like just something meaningful is not made well. When I see artistic films and admire them, I am always interested and surprised by how they could make those lines or how they could find camera angles. I am a pleasure seeker, and the truth of life is in pleasure.
SMT Then how was your university life? Did you spend time for pleasure in that time?
KIM Although I did some love in that time, my university life was almost like a war. When I was a freshman, our president of the student body died.* With this as a momentum, I decided to be a student activist, so I became the head of the sociology department of my college and after finishing military service, I became a departmental student representative. And as a senior, I became president of the student body. What I remember about my university life is tear gas’s smell and tapping the keys of the typewriter.
SMT Then what do you think about today’s university students compared with your university life?
KIM How can I compare it to over 20 years ago? Could I live like we did in the past if I do university life now? Today’s students’ specs are really great. However, they lack an answer to the most fundamental question: How we can live? It seems they don’t have their own world. It is the thing you have to own—it differentiates you from other people. Today’s students’ source of trouble is always getting a job. Of course, it is a serious unemployment crisis. However, it seems like they are justifying themselves too much about their generation. Paul Valery, who was a French theorist, said, “If you don’t live the way you think, you will think the way you live.” Now, I want young people to question themselves about this.
SMT Recently, Cho Yong-pil is an issue. People are extremely excited by return of king of the singers and his new songs, which are younger than before. However, there is a question about whether our society has enforced excessive young things to him. What do you think about this?
KIM The methods of making famous music are two. First, it is just the power of that song. And second, it is the part of music marketing. In Cho Yong-pil’s case, he is very suitable for the second point; the return of the king and young music. Also his popularity made media focus on his comeback. Through these means, he could appeal to young people easily. After finishing the last presidential election, the generations of young and old were separated. To the old generation, there was a sense of loss, like losing their son. And to the young generation, the old generation could not be understood, and there is a sense of loss that there is no compass to lead them. In this point, young people feel catharsis about his young music. To the young generation, this means they are not wrong, and to the old generation, the pleasure is the appearance of the king. I think it acted as a connecting bridge between old and young.
SMT In conclusion, in your many roles, what do you want people to remember you for?
KIM I don’t have concern about that. That is the consciousness of the public, and if I am aware that, my life will be uncomfortable. Sometimes, I think, ‘What will people think if I talk like this?’ However, as soon as I fix that thought, if I start to be aware of others’ eyes, then I have to do what I don’t like, and say what is not about me. I don’t concern myself with how people remember me. I want to live just the way I am. Don’t care about others’ opinions. I don’t choose my happiness by others’ standards.
<KIM’s Movie Recommendation for Students>
- Good Will Hunting - Taking Woodstock
* Lee Naechang Incident: Lee Naechang, president of the student body at Chung-ang University, was found drowned at Geomun Island in 1989. During the former president Noh Taewoo administration, this was pronounced a suicide case or a simple tripping accident. However, many people questioned why student activist Lee Naechang died in Geomun Island, which has no relationship with him. There were so many questions that the National Intelligence Service intervened. In 2004, the government decided no more the truth commission activity is not possible.