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27 years on, balladeer Shin Seung-hun says ‘life is Polaroid’

‘King of Ballad’ Shin Seung-hun feeds fans with nostalgia at year-end concert

The end of the year is the perfect time to wallow in nostalgia, but walking down memory lane may not always be joyful; after all, the word “nostalgia” is said to come from “the pain from an old wound” in Greek. 

And with his silky voice, veteran singer-songwriter Shin Seung-hun, still reigning supreme after 27 years, told those attending his year-end concert Sunday that it is okay to embrace those past pains. Singing a verse from his first-ever digital single “Polaroid,” Shin said life, no matter how it has been, will look like a beautiful piece of a Polaroid photo in the end.

“We’ve come a long way since we met each other in our teens and 20s. After such a long time, my fans, who had worried about me in the past, are now telling me about their own hardships,” said Shin during his signature annual concert “2017 The Shin Seung-hun Show” on Sunday at the Olympic Hall at Olympic Park in Seoul. The three-day concert, which kicked off Friday, came as Shin commemorated the 27th anniversary of his debut in 1990.

Shin Seung-hun performs at “2017 The Shin Seung-hun Show” (CJ E&M)
Shin Seung-hun performs at “2017 The Shin Seung-hun Show” (CJ E&M)

“Some people ask me why I released a digital single instead of a full-length album. I did it because I wanted to present this song to you as soon as possible, a message I’ve always wanted to give.”

In the ‘90s, Shin was called “Emperor of Ballads,” taking the Korean pop scene by storm and selling 1.4 million copies of his debut album. At 17 million total album sales, he still holds the record for most albums sold.

Living up to his reputation as a ballad guru, the more than two-hour concert on Sunday was smooth-sailing and cozy despite the icy weather. Many of his fans were middle-aged, having stood by the singer for more than two decades. But they seemed to have kept their youth alongside longtime idol star Shin, singing along to his hits, rhythmically waving blue light sticks and moving to the melodies.

After crooning classic hits like “I Believe,” “Your Smile in My Memory,” “Invisible Love” and “Turn on the Radio,” Shin told fans that this year has seen several major changes. One of them was introducing Rothy, a rookie female solo artist he nurtured for the first time as a producer, to the public. Another was the release of “Polaroid,” Shin’s first digital single.

Ushering Rothy onto the stage, Shin said, “Rothy made me realize for the first time that the melodies I made could fit well into others’ voices,” expressing his plan to expand his career as a producer. The Sunday show saw Rothy performing her debut single “Star,” as well as a heartfelt collaboration with her mentor.

Toward the end of the night, balladeer exploded into the holiday spirit with his perky hit “Mama,” whereupon thousands of loyal fans stood and joined in the song’s dance routine. After performing “Polaroid,” Shin conveyed the message he had kept deep in his heart.

“You are on the right path and doing great right now. I hope my music could be played a hundred times by one person, rather than being played only once by hundred people. And each of you here is that ‘one’ person. I will keep singing for the rest of my life for you.”

Shin is set to continue his year-end concert series in Busan on Saturday and Sunday.

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Korea Herald daum