“Sijo Is Longing."
'A Portrait of Jeonbuk's 100 People', Ji-bong Im San-bon
(JeonBuk domin il bo)
Master of Sijo(Korean Poem) Im San-bon who is from Jeonbuk, is the best singer of Sijo and a pioneer in the field of domestic Sijo. He has a national record of singing the whole song which takes almost 30minutes to sing. He is the one who did his best to open a new prospect for his own style. His mastery is evaluated that it is beyond one's imagination. His appearance made Sijo become popular when national tradition was disappearing by the progress of industrialization. He opened Sijo Institue in 1985 and worked for the professor of Jeonbukdo Provincial Institute for Korean Traditional Performing Arts.
1. Love of his Grandfather
He firstly met Sijo when he studied Chinese classics with his grandfather, who was the village school teacher and also an oriental doctor. His grandfather took much care of him who had an outstanding talent about Sijo. The circumstance which could easily learn Sijo made him as the best Sijo singer of the time. An anecdote showed his grandfather's love that was much more than the other general grandfather's. Wherever the grandfather was going, he was always taken. The love was so special that even neighbors said that the grandfather could spoil his grandson. In this story, we can see that it was a fundamental background that the his native tune and tone of full Sijo came from the grandfather's special love. His love made today's Sijo master, San-bon. After his grandfather passed away, he did not stop studying Chinese classics, Sijo and Chang(Korean traditional narrative song) which had been done together with his grandfather. In the late 1960s, he had a performance in front of all Supreme Court justices in the Supreme Court. He is the only one who had a performance in the supreme court. It was an great honor for the rural singer at that time.
2. Meeting his Mentor, Jeon Kyung-tae
There were great disciples of great teachers in the back. In Jeonju Poetical Group, 1952, San-bon in the age of energetic 20s took a guidance from a master Jeon Byeon-gik. His name was widely spread in the local area, and the reputation was produced, as he began to focus on practicing Sijo on youth. He became a pupil of a great leader of Korean classical music, Seokam Jeong Gyeong-tae in 1950s. It was in 1955 when he was the age of just 24 years old. It was another starting point for reaching new masterpiece to him that he met the great leader who recognized his early talent. His voice had various sound that strong and weak, thin and thick. He had a good command of his voice. It makes his song always fresh and new whenever we listened. Many people analyzed that his great voice came from his teacher along with his strenuous effort.
3. Focusing on a thing only
He, pioneer in the field of Sijo, was not a genius but a hard worker. He could not sleep at night when he was not satisfied his effort in that day. After the patience in many years, he became the best among the artistic accomplishments processors of full Sijo in Jeonbuk. He had a passion that was setting his teacher as his goal and pushing himself harshly on practice. That's how the first intangible cultural asset of Sijo in Jeonbuk was created. He also did not afraid of challenge. He believed that 'one's wish is realized when we wish it sincerely'. For example, he even went to the capital city, Seoul, to get some guidance of a great teacher if he needed. It showed his passion because in those days, fare of going to Seoul is same of living one's life in local area. He only focused on building his skill which even made him to go to Seoul.
4. Conquest of the Whole Country
He got a name when he was in his early 30s in 1960s. He won the first prize on the Sijo singing competition at Busan by catching up his senior in 1966. It was the beginning of being awarded the first prize in many famous competitions. In 1979, he won the first prize on Korean Poetical Group Myungchang part. In 1980, he also won the first prize on Jeonju Daesaseup competition. Beside on the Presidential prize on the Sijo singing competition in the 31st Baekjae Cultural Festival, he showed his best stage at Sijo. In 1988, after three years, he is awarded the prize of county residents in Wanju. Based on these prizes, he developed a new phase from the late 1970s to 1980s. He was the only person who could sing the full Sijo which was composed of 12 lyrics. This made Sijo become popular in the whole country. His flowing and elegant voice style gave him a fame which could win the first prize on every famous competition in the country.
5. Guiding junior scholar with all his soul and might
He put his heart and soul into teaching his students by working as a professor of Sijo in Provincial Institute for Korean Traditional Performing Arts from 1986 to 1996. When he was professor of the institute, he opened doors for his outstanding students to take other great teacher's guidance. Im 1997, Research Association for Sijo was founded to teach junior scholars. He always told to his students that the word, classical music in chinese meaned as 'upright song' or 'the song which was friendly' and emphasized to live upright following the song. Many disciples of him are now playing an active role in popularizing Sijo and teaching students. His attitude to keep traditional song which almost disappeared set an example for the world. He tried to make a sustainable Sijo training program to raise junior scholars of Sijo. At last, he made a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music which could keep teaching Sijo for the next generation and popularizing it. He also wrote a book, 'Collection of dissertations on Sijo', in order to urge people to keep Korean traditional song. In this book, he said, "I believe that appreciating a traditional music and being considerate of students who want to learn Sijo are the ways of loving our country and making positive society."
6. Ironclad rule of probity in his whole life
He made simple and probity as strict rule for himself. Although he lived not rich, he helped his neighbor and his students in love like a huge ocean. For his friends and his students, he gave whole things they needed, and even gave them what he was using. He insisted the penury for his family but not strict for his friends and students. His family lived in a life of distress, but for Sijo, he spent everything. For example, there were always about 7~8 people in his house who were his friends of his students. There was not enough food to serve that many people, always. So the most important thing in his house was to get some food everyday. However, he insisted to his students that they should not participate competitions for money and fame. He emphasized the simple and probity and kept the life of strict rule. His students remembered his word, "We have to put our belt up tight, so we can have a stomach power to sing." It literally means that putting one's belt tight is a precondition for the good voice. However we can think in metaphorically that he meant not only one's stomach but also the finance had to be tight. He showed the meaning in his whole life.
7. The basis of poem, writing, and Chang
He played a huge role in Sijo field to give a reputation to traditional region by working as a intangible cultural asset. The junior scholars said that he was not only the master of Sijo but also the master of writing and Chang. His first characteristic was 'Poem'. Basically, the score of Sijo was made of Chinese poem. Many styles of Chinese verse were used to make the score of Sijo. In his collection of peoms, second edition, we could see how beautiful the Chinese verse was. It was very lyrical and sweet. Secondly, he did good at writing. His students remembered that his writing was very vivid. He always wrote his book on his own. Lastly, what he did really good was Chang. He was the last person who became a cultural asset as a singer of Chang. Academic world analyzes his success that it was because he studied poem and writing through Chinese classics. His writing was a well-organized passage. It was showed as well in the score of Sijo. These whole things made him possible to be a master and great leader of Sijo.
8. Inserting soul in the Sijo
There is a word that the life that is with all one's soul and might is stronger than any other things. Through this word, we could understand his life that seemed to be gentle in appearance, but sturdy in spirit. He emphasized to his students that they have to put their heart and soul into Sijo. As Sijo was happiness and longing, it was just reciting if there was no one's soul in that. The insistence of him that did not sing Sijo to earn money and to win the first prize could be understand through the most genuine life of him that 'people doing Sijo had to get their own philosophy and idea'. When we heard his song, we could feel like a raging storm. His song showed the provision of nature and the power of storm like devouring the whole world at once. His song was evaluated that every listener was touched because of the features. Therefore, the most genuine life of him was so called the living in practical life.
9. Continuing his hope
He wanted to give his everything to the junior scholars. So, he wrote a book, 'Jibong, San-bon's collection of full Sijo'. In this book, he introduced every theory of Sijo precisely. He realized his dream through this book and the students who used this book to study. A society for the Preservation of Classical Music, which was made for popularizing Sijo by remembering him, worked actively. The society tried to revive Sijo singers' pride and dynamics by opening a competition every year since it is made in 2003. The biggest Sijo singing competition that almost every singer of Sijo participated was held year after year by this society. The Society for the Preservation on Classical Music was located in the Han-ok village, so the place was used to hold many concert, competition, presentation and so on to popularize Sijo. He was laid up. To admire his work, his son, Hwan, tried to keep the Society for the Preservation on Classical Music. Hereby, the Society kept its work on studying Sijo and popularizing Sijo. He who opened a great new field on Sijo in the country, his dream and hope keep going through the next generation.
< Forum on master Im San-bon's Sijo>
TIME : 2015. 11. 03
PLACE : Cultural Center of Jeonju Hyanggyo
TOPIC : About the Direction of Improvement of Full Sijo
(Pivot on the Sijo of Master, Jibong Im San-bon )
CHAIRPERSON: Kwon Byeong-ro (President of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music / Professor of Kun-san National University)
PRESENTER : Lee Jeon-guk(Ph. D. of Arts, bearer No.14-1)
PANELS : Kim Yung-hee(Jeonbuk's 14th intangible cultural asset)
Seong-yeol Lee (Confucian scholars of Hyanggyo in Jeonju)
Lee Hun-gu(President of Korean Poetical Group, Jeonju Branch)
Jeong Hye-sook(Vice-President of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music / Instructor of Korean Sijo Institute, Jeonju Branch)
Choi Myeong-ho(Director of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music)
Ki Hyeong-Seo(Director of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music)
Next, Statement of Lee Jeong-guk, Ph.D.
About the Direction of Improvement of Full Sijo
- Pivot on the Sijo of master, Jibong, Im San-bon -
Everybody evaluates mater San-bon's song is strong and possessing a charm of its own. Firstly, I am going to talk about San-bon’s achievements through meeting of him. Secondly, I am going to talk about his view of life. Lastly, I am going to talk about the theory and practice of Sijo .
2-1. Meeting Jibong Im San-bon
I want to talk several things by arranging San-bon's work simply after I met him. I signed up for Sijo class in the Provincial Institute for Korean Traditional Performing Arts. I met him there as a professor of it. In 1997, Association for Research on Sijo was made by his students who wanted to learn from him in private society. In 2003 on January, he made a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music and opened the first Sijo singing competition. The reason why he made this society is that he felt sorry for the poor preservation of lyrics and classical music in that days. In 2004, he opened the second Sijo singing competition; however, the third competition could not be held because of his illness. Since then, his students held the competition that is now on 8th. Up untill now, I talked simply under the topic of meeting him.
2-2. Love and Passion
I can say that the reason why San-bon is called as the master of full Sijo comes from his love and passion for the classic music. I think his love of Sijo was too much. Even after his marriage, he still focused on only Sijo. This passion can be found in this example. He learned Sijo from the great leaders in that days who were in Seoul. I really cannot understand why he studied Sijo deeply that even cannot earn money. This behavior cannot come out except the passion and love only for Sijo. In this poor environment, he steadily tried to open Sijo singing competition. Although there was any investment for the competition, he pushed the project strongly through his passion. One's passion can move people's mind. Many people were touched his passion and helped him. His work was not made only by himself. It was made by his family, his neighbor, and the whole inhabitants of the province.
2-3. Secrets of Poetic Beauty of His Sijo
There are many analysis on his song: his voice is good; strongness and weakness is various; the voice has a power; he has the matchless skills. The reason why he heard these praises is his wide knowledge of Sijo and his effort on practicing despite of his inborn voice and passion. His secrets of poetic beauty is that he was faithful to the basics. He always told to his students that they have to sing Sijo on their power of stomach. He realized this sound from stomach perfectly. This is the reason why his sound is so strong and is felt like moving actively. This sound did not come out in one day. He practiced so hard to make the perfect sound. I think this practice made him to get many praises from people.
Up untill now, I talked about master his Sijo and where its beautifulness comes from. His development is the developments of classical music, Sijo. Like he showed the way of direction of improvement, firstly, we have to love our own tradition. Secondly, we have to know the theory of Sijo and be faithful to the basics.
Contents of Discussion of the Subject Statement
- Lee Hun-gu(President of Korean Poetical Group, Jeonju Branch)
The problem how to develop Sijo nowadays occurs. Local society needs progress of the culture & art field in the future. I hope that the field of full Sijo will contribute to the local society's development.
- Lee Seong-yeol (Confucian scholars of Hyanggyo in Jeonju)
I want to tell you that why master, he did really good at Sijo. He could be the great master of Sijo because he was proficient in Chinese Poem through Chinese Classics.
- Kim Yung-hee(Jeonbuk's 14th intangible cultural asset)
He always told to me that the best Sijo cannot come out when my heart is nervous. One of the great leader also said that he is on in a million genius who can make upper sound and low sound very even.
- Jeong Hye-sook(Vice-President of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music / Instructor of Korean Sijo Institute, Jeonju Branch)
After finising the class when we serve some food, he always ate low-price food. He said the sound comes out when tightening his belt.
- Kwon Byeong-ro(President of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music / Professor of Kun-san National University)
He said, "Half of Sijo can be mastered when you master the beginning part." It becomes a basic and makes me to sing Sijo confidently.
- Choi Myeong-ho(Director of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music)
I want to talk him the other way. Sijo has very strong characteristic of language which is the characteristic of that era. Moreover, the score is just one of the means to convey Sijo through the language.
- Ki Hyeong-Seo(Director of a Society for the Preservation of Classical Music)
Firstly, he showed Sijo through his life and voice. Secondly, he made Sijo become popular to many people. Lastly, his message to junior scholars is that 'make a harmony within'. His philosophy of Sijo is 'back-to-the-basic mind'.