Many K-pop stars achieved success over the past few years but they did not get there without some help. Voice coach Kim Sung-eun has coached K-pop stars such as members of BTS, TWICE and solo artist Kang Daniel. Sharing from the office of the WIP Company, Kim shared that she felt like an empty shell or outsider. WIP Company is a K-pop academy she founded in the Mapo district of Seoul. According to Kim, people rate the voice coach based on the success of their students.
She could not escape her own vanity and she found out that she had to teach what she knew to people to build up her name. At a young age, Kim loved music and her big break came in 2003 after being featured in hip hop artist MC Sniper’s Korean music video. With her talent in singing, she was soon asked to be a vocal coach for trainee idols. Korean girl band Baby Vox Re.V were her first students and they debuted in 2007. More and more people went to her as her students increased.
Over time her students include former Wonder Girls and current solo artist Sunmi. Sandeul, a solo singer who debuted as part of K-pop group B1A4 was also her student. With 15 years of experience, Kim enjoyed her work more. As she matured, Kim learned to take things easier and she met many good people in the industry to help her out. Using the stage name as A.G. Sungeun previously, she said she had a tough time to communicate with artists and officials from labels before but now they are close enough to meet privately and help each other as needed.
One of the good people she met was Jin of BTS whom she gave singing lessons to, along with Jungkook and V. They studied under her a year before BTS debuted in 2013. Kim recalled that when Jin was a trainee at Big Hit Entertainment, he rehearsed singing Asher Book’s Try but could not do it well. A couple of years later, he sent Kim a new recording and asked for her two cents. She said that he was proficient and what touched her was his attitude. Jin always tries to do better despite being popular with a busy timetable.
Jihyo, from TWICE was also passionate about her music. As one of Kim’s students, she lately performed an acoustic gig as part of TWICE’s Melody project and did well performing five difficult tracks. Kim said Jihyo did really well. The voice coach said that some students are easier to train. The important things are a flexible attitude and core muscle strength. What comes first is fixing the problems the student has and upgrading their techniques.
Some students are uneasy during this time as they fear they would not improve. However, they should be more accepting and embrace the changes, according to Kim. She noted that a good singer is one that can express emotions and it is not about hitting high notes. Kim said solo artists IU and Kang Daniel are both talented and dedicated. IU has a velvety voice and can do high-pitched tones but she also gets into a rhythm and she skilfully expresses her emotions in a song.
As for Kang, Kim was surprised by his vocals when she heard a song of his without autotune. Previously a rapper/dancer with defunct boy band Wanna One, Kang has a deep sound and is able to interpret his tunes. He is also passionate about his music and works hard. Kim said she hopes her students can achieve their musical goals and that the teachers have more opportunities to teach. She also hopes to upgrade herself.