Kim Hyun-sik

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Kim Hyun-sik
Native name
Born(1958-01-07)7 January 1958
Died1 November 1990(1990-11-01) (aged 32)
Seoul, South Korea
Cause of deathCirrhosis[1]
NationalitySouth Korean
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • harmonica
Years active1980−1990
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Hyeon-sik
McCune–ReischauerKim Hyǒn-sik

Kim Hyun-sik (7 January 1958 – 1 November 1990) was a South Korean musician, active during the 1980s. He debuted in 1980, releasing his first album, Spring Summer Fall Winter, along with his band of the same name.[2] He died at the age of 32 from cirrhosis. He is recognized as one of the most popular and notable musicians of the 1980s in Korea, well known for his unique, husky, emotional vocal style.[3][4] Kim released five albums while alive, with his sixth album—Kim Hyun-sik VI, popularly known by the title of its lead single "My Love By My Side"—being released posthumously.[2][4] Kim broke out of the hospital to finish the vocal recordings for his last album, showing his dedication to his profession.[2] He won the Disc Daesang (Album of the Year) award at the 1991 Golden Disc Awards, the Korean approximation of the Grammy Awards, for his posthumous sixth album, Kim Hyun-sik VI.[5] Kim was also honored by having two episodes of the popular singing competition show Immortal Songs 2 dedicated to his music.[6]

Early Life[edit]

Kim Hyun-sik was born in Inhyeon-dong, Seoul, South Korea on January 7, 1958. He attended MyongJi High School but dropped out in 1974 to pursue his life as a singer. It is known that the reason for this was a fight with his school seniors and many say that the fight was caused because Kim touched his band member's instrument without permission.[7] After dropping out of high school, he passed the 1975 Korean school qualification exam and begin his musical career in the downtown area, preparing for his 1978 album.[8]

Life and Career[edit]

First Album: Spring Summer Fall Winter[edit]

In 1976, Kim began to work with Jang-hee Lee on his first album, Spring Summer Fall Winter. However, after the recordings were finished in 1978, the publishment of the album had to be cancelled due to Jang-hee Lee's sudden move to the United States of America caused by financial reasons. In addition to that, Kim was arrested at this time for his use of marijuana, which had devastating effects on both his public image and health.[9] In 1980, Kim was finally able to publish his album with Seorabul Records (서라벌레코드사) two years laters. The result did not go well and Kim spent most of his music career at this time in the underground.[9]

Marriage and Family[edit]

Kim met his wife at a clothes shop in Shinchon County, and they got married in 1982. In 1983, his son, Travis Kim, was born. It is widely known that Kim loved his son so much that he called him "my other self (나의 분신)." Kim and his family lived in Dongbu Ichon-dong where they opened a pizza place in 1983.[8][9] In the documentary produced by MBC celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kim's death, it is mentioned that Kim referred to this time as the most happiest time of his life. The pizza place soon went out of business after one year in 1984.

Second Album: I Loved You[edit]

After the pizza place went out of business, Kim went back to working in the undergrounds and published his second album in 1984. This album, I Loved You, became a success and helped Kim stabilize his career as a singer.[10] At this time of popularity, Kim became the lead singer of many underground bands, including "The Eastern Light (동방의 빛)," "Black Butterfly (검은 나비)," and the "Messengers (메신저스)," becoming one of the greatest underground singers in the 1980s.[9]

Band & Third Album: 'Spring Summer Fall Winter' & Like Rain, Like Music[edit]

It was not until 1985 when Kim decided to create a band of his own. The band had the same name as his first album, Spring Summer Fall Winter (SSaW). The members were Kim Jong-jin, Jeon Tae-guan, Jang Gi-ho, Yoo Jae-ha, and Kim.[10] This was the first band that Kim officially lead, and many say that this was the time when Kim's isolation and depression began as his parents and sister immigrated to Canada as his wife living separately from him.[9] The band's album, titled Like Rain, Like Music, sold over 300,000 albums, becoming an instant success.[9] However, the band quickly disbanded due to differences in music styles. [8]

Drugs and Alcohol[edit]

Jeon In-kwon, Heo Seong-wook, Kim, and a number of others were arrested in October 1987 for drug use. [9] Kim was also known for his addiction of alcohol and cigarettes which highly affected his health status.[8] In February 1988, Kim opened a concert in 63 Building for his fans. As a mean of apology, Kim performed on stage after shaving his head bald. Later on, Kim mentioned that this concert was the most memorable concert in his life as he was so deeply moved by how many fans had come to see him.[10]

Later Life[edit]

In the year of 1989, Kim collaborates with the 'Shinchon Blues' in their second album, giving birth to one of the most popular songs, 'Alley.' [9] Kim's fourth album, published in 1988, contained many depressing and sad songs that related with his internal situation at the time. Kim relied a lot on alcohol that by 1989, he visited the hospital more than he lived out his musical career.[9] In 1989, Kim recorded the soundtrack of the movie, 'Watercolor Painting in a Rainy Day,' with the song title of the same name.[8] In 1990, Kim released his fifth album and the third album of the 'Shinchon Blues' at the same time. Even though his health was in a terrible situation, Kim still toured around South Korea, eventually leading his death in November 1990.[9]


Kim was found dead in his house on November 1, 1990. His death was caused by cirrhosis. Kim's funeral was held on November 3rd 10 A.M. in the morning.[11]



  1. ^ "Superstitions that rule K-culture". 2 June 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b c [1]
  3. ^ "Kim Hyun-sik's Son to Appear on Tribute Album". 15 January 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b Herald, The Korea (22 October 2013). "Late Kim Hyun-sik's unknown songs released in album". Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  5. ^ "역대수상자 | 골든디스크". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  6. ^ "'Immortal Song 2' singers honor Kim Hyun Sik -". Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  7. ^ "[창간2년 특집]요절한 유재하-김현식, 아직도 당신은!". inews24. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  8. ^ a b c d e "김현식" (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "사랑의 가객(歌客) 김현식…그의 삶과 열정 그리고 음악". Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  10. ^ a b c "김현식 - 나무위키". Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  11. ^ "가수 金賢植(김현식)씨 사망". NAVER Newslibrary. Retrieved 2018-09-03.