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Veteran balladeer Im Chang-jung returns with heart-wrenching EP

There are certain tracks that need to be heard in this sweater weather, and veteran balladeer Im Chang-jung is back on the circuit with a new fall-focused EP to help you get in the mood for the season.

Best known for his effusive voice that evokes a whirlwind of feelings, Im returned with his second EP “Do You Know That Person” on Monday, fully charged with bitter emotions for past romances.

After kicking off the media showcase for his new EP on Monday in Seoul with a performance of his previous hits “Love Again” and “The Love that I Committed,” Im said, “It’s been a very eventful year for me.”

He continued, “Earlier in January, I moved to Jeju Island with my family. As my life pattern has totally changed, I think this year was a turning point for me. I’m living a different kind of life right now.”

Balladeer Im Chang-jung performs during a media showcase for his latest EP in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Balladeer Im Chang-jung performs during a media showcase for his latest EP in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Im’s new EP, in which the artist participated both as a lyricist and composer, is fronted by lead track “Do You Know that Person,” a poignant love ballad that emphasizes the vocalist’s mellow and soulful voice. Led by a piano and a harmonious string orchestra set, “Do You Know that Person” is for those who still pine for the relationships that have ended, according to Im.

“If my life can be portrayed as a movie, I think I’d like to let others know about the person I loved. I want to ask them, ‘Do you know that person?’’’ said Im.

The EP also includes two new tracks “The Reason I Pull You Out” and “Ask Me Not to Leave,” both pain-drenched love ballads. What grabs the attention in “I Don’t Want You to Go” is the veteran artist‘s collaboration with a female rookie singer JNIQ, who joined Im on the stage at Monday’s event.

“I was about to collaborate with a well-known artist, until I heard JNIQ’s voice. I have a very keen insight for finding a future superstar, and I think JNIQ will be one of them,” said Im, warmly encouraging his partner who appeared jittery. Im’s new EP also features instrumental versions of all three new tracks, providing opportunities for his fans to practice his songs.

With his comfortable yet sturdy image, Im has earned a nickname “older brother” from many Korean men. But Im’s previous hits are also notorious for being hard to sing along, the reason why many Korean men show off their singing talents with Im’s songs in a noraebang, or karaoke.

Balladeer Im Chang-jung performs during a media showcase for his latest EP in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Balladeer Im Chang-jung performs during a media showcase for his latest EP in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Asked how challenging his new single would be for the noraebang-goers, Im said, “I actually took that fact into consideration and made the song not too difficult to sing along.”

“Even for me, it’s tough to sing my songs. To sing them, I have to get super drunk in a noraebang.”

As he has done for his previous EP released about a year ago, Im doesn’t plan to promote his new record on TV shows nor make TV appearances. But he hopes that his new EP will do well on the charts, where he soon has to compete with several big-name K-pop artists such as Twice and two ballad-focused acts 4Men and Sung Si-kyung. Even Epik High, the fan favorite hip-hop trio, dropped its ninth full-length album on the same day as Im, immediately sweeping local music charts.

Asked if he had been aware of Epik High’s return on the same day, Im said, “I didn’t know until now. Tablo of Epik High actually called me a few days ago and asked me if I could guest on the group’s concert. So I said yes.”

Having originally kicked off his career as an actor in 1990, the 44-year-old singer and actor debuted as a singer with his first full-length album “Rock & Razor Techno Music” in 1995. In 2003, he announced that he would take a break from his singing career to focus on acting after releasing his 10th full-length album “Bye.”

Un 2009, he returned with his next album “Return to My World.“ Im once again reigned as the king of ballads with his chart-topping hit “Love Again” in 2015 which was followed by the heart-wrenching “The Love that I Committed” in 2016.

By Hong Dam-young (