Whang Bo-ryung

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Whang Bo-ryung
Smacksoft 4 cropped.jpg
Performing with Smacksoft at her solo art exhibit, "Capital City : Soul", Seoul, Oct. 2015
Background information
Born (1970-02-26) February 26, 1970 (age 49)
Seoul, South Korea
  • Singer-songwriter
  • painter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • ukulele
Years active1998–present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationHwang Bo-ryeong
McCune–ReischauerHwang Po-ryŏng

Whang Bo-ryung (Korean황보령; born February 26, 1970) is a South Korean-American singer, songwriter and painter. She is the lead vocalist and founder of the band Smacksoft. She released her first solo album, Cat With Three Ears, in April 1998.[1][2][3]

Life and career[edit]

1970–97: Early life in Seoul, move to New York[edit]

Whang was born in Seoul and relocated to Busan in the fifth grade of elementary school. In 1985, at age fifteen, she moved to the United States with her family. During her sophomore year in high school, she received an acoustic guitar as a birthday gift and started playing and writing music in her diary.[2] She graduated from Rush–Henrietta Senior High School, and began college at the Pratt Institute in art studies. She and a male college friend formed the duo Sun & Fish and started busking on the streets of New York City.[2][4][5][6] She then left college, without graduating, for an "extended tramp around the world to find herself and her voice", visiting Japan, Vietnam, France and Thailand.[1][2]

1998–2007: Cat With Three Ears, Sun Sign and Smacksoft formation[edit]

She returned to Korea in the late 1990s and started performing as a solo artist, playing a lot of acoustic shows with her guitar, in Hongdae.[1] She said the atmosphere was different then, with fewer bands, and people found her fascinating, with her New York punk look – colorful hair and piercings.[1] In 1998, she released her first solo album, Cat with Three Ears, then a second album in 2001, "Sun Sign", which included her recently formed band Smacksoft, with the full name being "Whang Bo-ryung = Smacksoft",[7] who joined her on the last track.[1][4] After touring with the band in South Korea and Japan,[8] she decided to take time off, and in 2003 she returned to New York and the Pratt Institute, to study sculpture, and graduated with a B.F.A. in 2007.[1][2][4]

2008–present: Smacksoft 2.5, As If Nothing Ever Happened and Smacksoft re-formed[edit]

In 2008, she returned to Seoul and created the EP SmackSoft 2.5 which she released in January 2009 with a re-formed Smacksoft band.[1][2]

In 2010, a Smacksoft album, Shines in the Dark, was nominated for Best Modern Rock Album by the Korean Music Awards.[9][10]

In April and August 2012, she joined other indie singers, led by Song Eun-ji, to perform three concerts and release the album Please Talk, to benefit comfort women.[11][12][13]

In 2013, Smacksoft received a second nomination for the Best Modern Rock Album by the Korean Music Awards for the album Follow Your Heart.[8]

On October 20, 2013 and February 16, 2014, she held pre-release concerts for her third solo album, an acoustic one, As If Nothing Ever Happened, released on February 27, 2014, just prior to Smacksoft's travels to the U.S. for SXSW and to Europe and Amsterdam's CinemAsia Film Festival.[14][15][16][17] As If Nothing Ever Happened ranked number 35 on the K-Indie Chart.[18] She said she felt like producing "simple acoustic music" for a calming effect, to counterbalance some of the chaotic world events like the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the following Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that had upset her.[19] She said some of the songs were new, but some were written nearly twenty years ago.[19]

On March 13, 2014, she performed with Smacksoft at SXSW and Jonathan Cha of KoreAm called the Seoulsonic show opener "a powerful, 'post-punk' punch to the face" with "Whang Bo Ryung rhythmically rattling everyone at the venue down to the tent covering the stage."[20]

In the fall of 2015, she was featured in the album Golden Indie Collection and the book The Musician by Choi Kyu-sung. She and Smacksoft participated in a concert celebrating the photographic exhibition that accompanied the book's release.[21][22][23]


Musical style and influences[edit]

Starting as a soloist in the 1990s, Whang's music derived from punk and early German industrial techno style music.[1] She writes most of her own music that she produces for herself and for her band.[19] She describes Bach as a big musical influence, along with life itself.[20][24] Kim Young-jin of The Korea Times and Sabrina Hill of Groove Korea magazine have labeled the sound avant-garde.[1][25]

Art and performance art[edit]

She creates the artwork for her album covers and for Smacksoft,[2] and often uses her art and music for performance art, combining painting exhibitions and videos with a live concert, such as one performed with Smacksoft and the band Asian Chairshot on November 16, 2013, called "Sublime Re-treat".[26][27]

Her art work has been shown with others, including a joint exhibition on January 1–20, 2013, "Rockstar", at the Gallery Toast in Bangbae-dong Seoul; her contribution was a painting of Brian Eno.[28] She has held a number of solo exhibits, including one held December 20–31, 2015, at the Namsan gallery Daeppang Four Studio Gallery, which included concert performances.[29]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Cat With Three Ears (1998)[3][30]
  • The Sun Sign (2001)[30]
  • As If Nothing Ever Happened (2014)[16]


Year Title TV Series
2001 "Love Song" Club Butterfly[31]
2001 "Sunshine" No Blood No Tears[32]

As featured artist[edit]

  • Dosirak Tuk Gong Dae (도시락특공대) (1997)[33]
  • "Maya" (She Wanted, 2000)[34]
  • "Gunpowder Cabin" (Fanatic, 2009)[35]
  • "Marching Through War" (Please Talk, 2012)[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hill, Sabrina (August 2013). "Smacksoft: The music of discontent". Groove Korea. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Choi, Kyu-Sung (May 15, 2013). [골든 인디 컬렉션] 황보령이 말하는 그림과 음악의 접점 (in Korean). Ten Asia. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  3. ^ a b 1집 귀가 세개 달린 곤양이 (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Despres, Shawn (June 25, 2012). "Catch alt-rockers SmackSoft in Jeju City, June 30". The Jeju Weekly. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  5. ^ Cha, Woo-jin (June 8, 2009). "황보령 혹은 한국적 록 음악" (in Korean). PD Journal. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Sung, Ji-hye (January 20, 2009). "나의 이 단 하나뿐인 세상" (in Korean). Ildaro.com. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  7. ^ Smacksoft 락 (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Redmond, John (February 25, 2014). "Smacksoft to tour US, Europe". The Korea Times. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  9. ^ Seo, Jung-min (March 9, 2010). 한국대중음악상 꿋꿋한 새출발 (in Korean). The Hankyoreh. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Park, Se-yeon (March 9, 2010). 제7회 한국대중음악상 30일 개최..주류-비주류 ‘향연’ 권위 높일까 (in Korean). JoongAng Ilbo. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  11. ^ Gog, Yeong-Seok (September 4, 2012). 日정부는 진심으로 미안하다고… 폭력의 피해자들 말못한 상처도… "이야기해주세요" (in Korean). Hankook Ilbo. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Female Indie Singers Release Album to Support 'Comfort Women'". The Chosun Ilbo. August 30, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  13. ^ a b 이야기해주세요 (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  14. ^ Choi, Tae-young (October 7, 2013). 황보령, 쇼케이스 ‘마치 아무일도 없었던 것처럼’ 제 2탄 열어 (in Korean). Gaon Music Chart. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  15. ^ Choi, Tae-young (February 6, 2014). 황보령, 어쿠스틱 스페셜 앨범 ‘마지막 프리 쇼케이스’ 개최 (in Korean). Gaon Music Chart. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  16. ^ a b 마치 아무 일도 없었던 것처럼 (As If Nothing Ever Happened) (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  17. ^ Jeong, Jin-Yeong (April 5, 2014). 황보령… 불편하고 낯설지만 매혹적인 음악 세계 (in Korean). The Korea Herald. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  18. ^ Kwon, Seok-Jeong (March 21, 2014). 인디차트, 캐스커 준오 첫 솔로앨범 3위로 진입 (in Korean). Ten Asia. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  19. ^ a b c "Follow Your Heart: Interview with Smacksoft". YAM Magazine. March 9, 2014. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Cha, Jonathan (March 14, 2014). "SXSW Hosts More Music From Korea". KoreAm. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  21. ^ 골든 인디 컬렉션: The Musician展-황보령 (in Korean). JoongAng Ilbo. August 24, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  22. ^ Lee, Eun-Ho (September 9, 2015). ‘골든 인디 컬렉션 – 더 뮤지션’ 공연으로 만났다 (part.1 밴드) (in Korean). Ten Asia. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  23. ^ Kyu-Sung, Choi. 골든 인디 컬렉션 The Musician (in Korean). Kyobo. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  24. ^ Zimmer, Cindy (March 13, 2014). "Interview: Smacksoft (at SXSW)". ATK Magazine. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  25. ^ Kim, Young-jin (March 10, 2014). "Blunt and brilliant". The Korea Times. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  26. ^ Jung, Jin Young (November 13, 2013). 황보령ㆍ아시안체어샷, 16일 동교동 ‘1984’서 합동 콘서트 (in Korean). The Korea Herald. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  27. ^ Robinson, Ken (December 11, 2013). [콘서트] 펑크 페스티벌&아시안 체어샷&황보령=Smacksoft (in Korean). Found Magazine. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  28. ^ [이벤트] 파운드 팝업 북 스토어 – Rockstar展 (in Korean). Found Magazine. February 14, 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  29. ^ Kim, Yeon-Su (December 18, 2015). 스튜디오 4:0(사대빵) – 황보령 개인전 (in Korean). CNB Journal. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  30. ^ a b "공연... <황보령 2집 단독공연>, <Punk Rock Show! 크라잉넛 with Punk Friends>". Cine 21. October 25, 2001. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  31. ^ 클럽 버터플라이 (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  32. ^ 피도 눈물도 없이 (in Korean). MNET. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  33. ^ 도시락특공대 (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  34. ^ She Wanted (봉자) (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  35. ^ 1집 Fanatic (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved June 20, 2016.

External links[edit]

Media related to Whang Bo-ryung at Wikimedia Commons