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11/20/2017 HYU News > Culture


What Will We Leave Behind

A visit to the commemoration exhibit of the late singer, Yoo Jae-ha


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In Korea, there is a saying, “A hide is left when a tiger dies, and a name is left after a person’s death.” In reference to this quote about life, the “Us, Here Forever” exhibition, in commemoration of the 30th passing year of singer Yoo Jae-ha, gives us all something to think about while cherishing the legacy that the late singer left behind. Held at the Hanyang Museum, located next to the International Department building, the exhibition began on November 10th and is planned to last until June 30th, 2018. Open to all students and visitors, it operates from 10AM to 5PM on the third floor of the museum.

Recreating the life of Yoo Jae-ha


The exhibition is part of a project called, “The People of Hanyang”, dedicated to celebrating and appreciating the people of Hanyang who had left their marks in the world. Yoo is the third person to receive this honor, following the late poet Park Mok-wol and Professor Lee Man-young. Park Mok-wol was an esteemed poet who left a myriad of verses committed to the depiction of nature and nostalgia, and Lee Manyoung was the very first Korean computer scientist.

Yoo was chosen this year for his musical contribution to Korean culture. To give an introduction on Yoo, he is a celebrated singer of the 1980’s, who died in a tragic car accident. The death of the late singer was especially tragic for two reasons: his died at such an early age, and his immense musical potential was left unfulfilled. Having produced one album composed of nine songs, Yoo had written, composed, and edited the entire album by himself, which came as a shock to the musicians of his era. His work later became idolized by many musicians, and he is recognized for having led the Korean popular music culture to a higher level. Furthermore, the annual “Yoo Jaeha Music Contest” is another form of his continued legacy, which produces a number of musical prodigies every year.

The exhibition displays a number of Yoo Jae-ha's old items.

The design and production of the exhibition was done by the school, and it is composed of two parts. It was aimed to create an interactive platform where the visitors could take a step closer to the life and work of Yoo. The first part of the exhibition focuses on the life Yoo as a student of Hanyang, in the Department of Composition. The exhibition displays a number of pictures of him with his friends, professors, as well as his hand written application to one of the school’s guitar clubs. Furthermore, there is a written anecdote of Yoo’s school life, where he had turned in a piece of composition as an assignment. At the first look of his piece, the professor had shouted at Yoo for having plagiarized the work of Mozart. This incident shows just how talented he was at composing, and how much of his chords and passages resembled the works of Mozart. In addition, a recreation of his room during his college life takes a large proportion of this section. As an important background for the beginning of his musical career, his room is decorated with many albums of great musicians as well as his instruments. It provides a visual vendor where the audience can relive a part of Yoo’s life and feel closer to him. A letter written to Yoo by his mother is engraved in the wall of the installation, evoking deep sentiments from visitors.

A corner is comprised of winners from the Yoo Jaeha Music Contest, each making their contributions in Yoo's memory.

The second part of the exhibition is dedicated to his afterlife, when his music received the most attention. A display illustrates the establishment of the Yoo Jae-ha Scholorship as well as the Yoo Jaeha Music Contest, created by his father and now led by his brother. The Yoo Jae-ha Music Contest has been held every year since 1989 and continues to seek out and support gifted musicians. A corner provides headphones where visitors can listen to a compilation track of winners from the contest, singing their own versions of songs written by Yoo to express their appreciation towards him. Furthermore, there are visual projections of Yoo’s performance in a televised music program as well as clips of winners of the Yoo Jaeha Music Contest.  

Behind the scenes

Through an interview with the Hanyang Museum curator, Choi Hyo-young, it was revealed that the piano, guitar, LP tracks, and photos of Yoo Jaeha were provided by his family through the Yoo Jae-ha Scholarship Committee. She expressed that the most difficult part of the exhibition preparation was the lack of available data and materials due to Yoo’s short life and career, and the contributions made by his family were a great help in the process. She added that although Yoo’s music was somewhat quiet and gloomy, he was a funny and energetic person in real life. She hopes that people can get to know more about Yoo as a person and is happy to see that the exhibition is drawing a regular number of visitors.

The street performance played a list of Yoo's well known tracks.

As a part of the promotion for the exhibition, a street performance, or busking, was held by music clubs of Hanyang, where students sang the songs of Yoo. It drew a large crowd despite the biting cold and was deemed meaningful to the audience as well as the performers. One of the performers, Kim Won-il (Clothing and Textile, 1st year), commented that although he had always liked Yoo as a singer, he was not aware that Yoo went to the same school as him. As a fellow Hanyang junior, he felt proud to have been given the opportunity to perform in his celebration.

On behalf of the museum, Choi expressed gratitude towards the performance, appreciating the students contributions and how they interpreted Yoo’s music in their own ways and shared it with the audience. “Overall, I think a lot of students feel pressured about visiting the museum. I hope this exhibition can lighten the image of the museum and attract more students. There are a lot more things for them to experience.”

Lee Chang-hyun 
Photos by Choi-Min-ju

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