The Korea Herald

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Singer Hyun-mi dies at 85

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : April 4, 2023 - 16:36

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Hyun-mi (Yonhap) Hyun-mi (Yonhap)

Veteran singer Hyun-mi has died at the age of 85, according to local police Tuesday.

The president of Hyun-mi’s fan club found the singer collapsed on the floor in her home in Ichon-dong in Yongsan, central Seoul, on Tuesday morning.

She was transported to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead. Yongsan police are currently investigating further details, but have not found any evidence of criminal or suspicious circumstances.

Hyun-mi, whose original name is Kim Myeong-seon, was born in Pyongyang in 1938. She left her hometown during the Korean War and took refuge with her mother's family in Kangdong, South Pyongan Province, at the time of the January Fourth Retreat, also known as the Third Battle of Seoul, in 1951.

She started her entertainment career by joining the 8th US Army band in 1957 at the age of 20 -- like many other Korean entertainers at the time. Her career became an unexpected success, having started out as a sword dancer, and soon after she went on stage to sing as a substitute for another female singer.

Hyun-mi quickly gained tremendous popularity with her 1962 release, “Night Fog,” which became her most iconic song. She also formed a duo with her late husband Lee Bong-jo, a composer, and released a string of hit songs such as “The Face I Want to See,” “Leave Without Saying Goodbye” and “All My Love.” They were not officially married couple as Lee was already a married man.

The singer was separated from her two younger siblings in 1951 during the 1950-53 Korean War. She met with them briefly in Changchun, China, more than 60 years later, with help from the Hankyoreh Reunion (translated), a non-governmental organization for separated families from North and South Korea.

Hyun-mi's two sons currently live in the US. Her funeral will be set up at Chung-Ang University Hospital in Dongjak-gu, Seoul.