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Biography

Jang Sa-Ik (張思翼), born 1949, is a highly popular South Korean singer. His music combines elements of popular music, jazz, and Korean traditional music. In particular, the style of pansori can be heard throughout Jang Sa-ik’s music.

Jang Sa-ik was born in Gwangcheon-eup, Hongseong, Chungcheongnam-do.

He spent his childhood listening to his father and his uncle playing traditional music on the the taepyeongso, a traditional Korean oboe. Spending his childhood in the countryside, he grew to love the sounds of ‘Nongak’, which is a traditional Korean music form associated with farm life.

Jang Sa Ik spent over 25 years doing odd jobs in various towns across Korea, but he found himself longing for the sounds of his childhood. Finally, in 1980, following in his father’s footsteps, he began to study the taepyeongso. He made his debut at the age of 46, at which time he was working as an electronics salesman. In 1993, Jang decide to quit his job as a car center clerk, saying “After changing jobs more than 10 times, I realized that singing was my true calling”.

Shortly after choosing music as his full time vocation, Jang released his first album, entitled Hareulganeungil (Passage to Heaven), featuring pianist Im Dong-Chang. This album reflected the values and lifestyles of the poor Korean population living in the small villages and towns of Korea. During this time, Western pop music was extremely popular in Korea, but Jang’s debut album made a huge impact on mainstream Korean music. He began to garner a reputation as a unique and powerful singer. Jang went on to win the Jeonju Daesaseub (a traditional Korean music contest in Jeonju City) in 1994, the same year that his debut album was released.

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