Welcome to Insider Focus. Here we will discuss various people in the music industry that has been a key in shaping what the Korean music scene is today by giving valuable, impactful and creative insight to the industry and their peers. We will talk about their contributions and significant work inside the world’s rapidly growing music market.

Usually, a blog features an artist, CEO, producer, songwriter, composer, arranger or even a staff member they like that helps the group or artist grow and bloom to the maximum potential they can be. Neither we see a line for music critics. I would like to change that. Hopefully, you can appreciate how these people are needed in an industry full of hiccups and still young to its shape.

Today’s Insider Focus is none other than the world famous music critic and ethnomusicologist, Kim Youngdae. He is behind K-Pop’s most intricate, and deep diving musical analyses and insight to the best and most critically-acclaimed acts. Kim Youngdae is no less than a person with deep respect for music, and its background. He has written a book about how BTS has consistently shaped our world and society, BTS: THE REVIEW.

Author of 3 books and a member of the Korean Music Awards, Kim Youngdae reviews music by listening to it as a fan and a critic at the same time. “This is because music cannot be fully explained without such a context, thus I try to be a critic and a fan at the same time.”

When I first heard of the term critics, both in film, music and television, it had some sort of bad connotation. They were considered as old, white, and conservative people with no remorse whatsoever for their words and demeanor. I saw them as elites trying to dictate what was the best and the worst. As time flew by, and I discovered BTS and K-Pop, I realized something. In a world full of critics and scholars amongst art, where is it in this genre? Why can’t I find a music critic here? Is it really that bad? Those were my words.

The Korean Music Awards provides the outlook I wanted to see. More than 150 music critics vote and weigh their thoughts on the most rapidly evolving music market in the globe, South Korea. With merit, social and critical impact in mind, they really are the representative award show of Korea. Despite of these critics being hidden or have no SNS at all, there is one that happens to be the person I was looking for, Kim Youngdae.

Kim Youngdae is synonymous to BTS as a long time follower and critic of the group. I first started knowing him back in 2018, along with my introduction to K-Pop blogging and the Korean Music Awards. A community full of music reviewers and avid K-Pop/J-Pop fans was the thing I saw and there I saw the future of the industry. I saw there was hope and challenge against some faculties of the music scene.

Kim Youngdae is my role model as a critic. He tries to avoid anything demeaning or convoluted towards the artist and their art. If he doesn’t like a thing, he will not say a thing about it, and that is a great thing to note of. Being critical doesn’t mean you will always voice out your disgust and torment against the song or the album, or the artist. You will always try to find ways to praise them naturally. That is what critics are supposed to do. Make constructive points of antithesis and let the artist try to refute them.

In his last interview with me, Suga coolly said that he doesn’t care much about how many parts he takes in the song or how much participation is revealed on the outside. The roles that don’t appear in the credits are also important, and they are gathered one by one to create music. It’s a great attitude as a musician.

Kim Youngdae

Taeyong’s Blue. While hesitating, regretting, and reproaching, the inner tenderness and depression of wanting to be revealed, approached, and understood were emotionally portrayed. Moving forward in various genres, from rap to now vocals You can see that his musicianship is evolving at a much faster rate than expected. I’m curious about [him releasing] an album full of music.

Kim Youngdae

In any given day, you can expect Mr. Kim to do a live stream and discuss the most important issues surrounding the Korean music industry and the music industry in general. He has interviewed artists and musicians about their art, their music and their passion in making them. Indie and K-Pop artists are the main acts he usually follows.

Truly, we need more people to know how amazing it is to be able to reach what is in local critics minds. At first these music and culture critics are not really that media popular or anything accessible for them to voice out their opinions. Kim Youngdae has broken the stereotypes of what it is to be a critic, respecting the art and the artist behind it. People may not like certain things about music, or fervently like the song. Critics need to be a judge and a fan all at the same time. It is terribly frustrating to do this, but it is the only way for you to become a true music lover.

You can follow Kim Youngdae on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.