Yun Sim-deok

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Yun Sim-Deok
Youn Shim-Deok.jpg
Background information
Birth name Yun Sim-Deok
Born 25 July 1897
Pyongyang, Korea
Died August 4, 1926(1926-08-04) (aged 29)
Occupation(s) Singer, Stage actress
Years active 1924–1926
Yun Sim-deok
Hangul 윤심덕
Hanja 尹心悳
Revised Romanization Yun Sim-deok
McCune–Reischauer Yun Sim-tŏk
This is a Korean name; the family name is Yun.

Yun Sim-Deok (also written as Youn or Yoon and Sim-dok, Yun Sim-tŏk or Shimdok; Hangul: 윤심덕; hanja: 尹心悳; 25 July 1897–4 August 1926) was the first female soprano to achieve fame throughout Korea.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Pyongyang in 1897, she studied at the Pyongyang Girls' Middle and High Schools, and graduated from Kyongsong Women's Teaching College in Seoul in 1914. After graduation she became a primary school teacher in Wonju.

She left for Japan where she studied music at Tokyo Music School. It was there that she met and fell in love with an English literature and drama student, Kim Ujin (ko) (김우진; 金祐鎭). However, Kim was married and had a wife and children at his home in the city of Mokpo.

They set off back for Korea on a passenger ship but jumped from the ship into the ocean and both drowned.[1][2]

Her most famous recording, recorded in Osaka by the Japanese Nitto recording company, and accompanied by her sister on the piano, is "In Praise of Death (ko)" (also called "Psalm of Death" or "Death Song"; Saui Chanmi 사의 찬미; 死의 讚美) which is set to the tune of "The Waves of the Danube" by Ion Ivanovici. This was released in Korea in 1926 and is often regarded as the first "popular" (yuhaeng changga) Korean song.[3]

Two films have been made of her story. The first a 1969 film entitled Yun Shim-Deok directed by Han Hyeoncheol (한현철) and starring Moon Hee. The second was Death Song named after Yun's most famous song, and made in 1991. It was directed by Kim Ho-sun, for which he won the 1992 Grand Bell Award for best director. Chang Mi-hee starred as Yun, and the film retells the story of the lovers' time in Japan and their death.[4]


  1. ^ Kim, Young-Na (2005), 20th Century Korean Art, Laurence King Publishing.
  2. ^ Ahn, Choong-Sik (2005), The Story of Western Music in Korea: A Social History, 1885-1950; ISBN 1-58909-263-5
  3. ^ Lee, Young Mee,(2006), The Beginnings of Korean Pop, in Korean Pop Music: Riding the Wave, edited by Keith Howard (England: Global Oriental, 2006) p.3
  4. ^ KMDb