Already the same day as the nominees for the Korean Music Awards are announced, so is the winner of Korean Music Awards‘ special Achievement Award. For the 13th Korean Music Awards the price and honor goes to Kim Hee Gab.
Kim Hee Gab is perhaps best known as the songwriter behind numerous Korean hits in the 70’s and 80’s, sometimes referred to as “noraebang royalty” owning to the popularity of his songs at karaoke establishments around Korea. Born in Pyongyang during the Japanese occupation, Kim Hee Gab started his musical career while in the South Korean army in 1955. Since then he’s been active as guitarist, orchestra conductor, movie score producer, and musical composer.
After spending a few years as a jazz guitarist, in 1964 Kim Hee Gab began producing rock band Key Boys. He also worked with other first generation Korean rock bands such as He5 and Trippers, active around US army bases playing “group sound” type music.
During the 1970’s Kim Hee Gab didn’t just compose group sound hits, but also wrote songs for “folk sound” artists such as Song Chang Sik (KMA Achievement Award winner 2015) as well as trot singers like Park Geon, effectively covering the full spectrum of the decade’s popular genres. Kim He Gab continued to write hits throughout the 80’s, for Cho Yong Pil (KMA Achievement Award winner 2006) among many others.
Currently aged 79 years old (81 Korean age) Kim Hee Gab is awarded the KMA Achievement Award for his long and strong career, having kept going even after other musicians of his generation have long resigned. Check out the video below for a more extensive, but far from complete, sample of the many hits written by Kim Hee Gab.