The Story Of Shin Young-tae

Summary Kim Hye-jin

& Photographs Choi Chang-won

Shin Young-tae(40), a Korean classical musician. He is a great drum player and was a part of many events such as: 2001 closing ceremony concert for Peking Universiade; 2002 opening ceremony for FIFA World Cup; and 2012 MBC drama <Horse Doctor>. Even though he was successful in many renowned concerts, he says at a certain point in his life, he could not find his performances to be worthwhile or fun. ‘Why is this happening?’ While struggling, he found Maum Meditation and regained the joy of being on a stage. This is a mind-subtraction story of Shin Young-tae.

‘Bangbang~ bangbang~ bangbang~’

“The origin of drum started when people from a long ago killed animals to eat and banged on leathers to comfort their sorrowful minds. The drum sounds are similar to a person’s heartbeats.  Normally the heart would beat rub-dub, but when strained it goes faster. Without realizing it, a person is performing all his life from birth till death.  As you watch the concert today, please see how your heartbeats are sometimes soft, and sometimes fast.”  

I am currently doing a national tour of Maum Talk Concert and I say the above as an opening.  This concert was planned with a purpose of providing a healing path of self-reflection to alleviate stress suffered by the contemporary people.  It would be good to self-reflect on one’s own mind as one listens to own heartbeats during the concert.  I feel it is very worthwhile when the concert attendees say “We were suffocating before we came here; now our chests have lightened.”

In the beginning, my dream was to be a singer.  I liked the feeling of something being pulled out from me while singing.  But with my family being poor, I couldn’t think of getting music lessons and I decided to attend Haeyang University which assisted me with paying for tuitions.  Getting up in the morning to a military-style roll call and a morning run, and wearing uniforms to school – it felt like being in a military.  Then by coincidence, I went with my friend to Seoul student club activities and that’s when I first heard the Korean classical music. Other students my age were singing in the Korean classical styles and rudely playing around; and this was a cultural shock to me.  When I heard such lively but also soulful music, I felt uplifted…..  Since then I started to learn the Korean classical music. I was more and more attracted to the Korean classical music as I experienced the moments of full immersion during performances.



In 1999, I joined an artistic performance group and became a full-fledged Korean classical musician. Since then, I started to perform with a great drum and other sets of drums. I especially remember the 2002 World Cup opening ceremony concert. I came down a high wire to perform on drums and there were thunderous applauses and roars from the thousands of people in the audience – it was thrilling.  After the World Cup, I had a plenty of concert offers, but starting at some point, I wasn’t happy.  I had started this work due to a sense of duty and pride I had about the Korean classical music, but the reality was it wasn’t any different from any other show business.  Between the idealistic view and the reality, there was a separateness causing conflicts….  Many people around me were envious, “it’s great that you are well-known and was offered many concert performances.” But as time passed, I could not find the reason for performing music and my own identity as a musician.  Every time I was on stage, I was fearful and wanted to avoid the attention of audience…  At that time, my wife recommended the Maum meditation.

As I meditated, I found that I was wrong to think that I lived a good life like others.  The Korean classical music which I truly enjoyed all of sudden became my job and I started to work to build relationships with well-known teachers; and as I did not major in Korean classical music in college, I felt a sense of inferiority and continued my endeavor to learn so as not to hurt my pride…  Instead of worrying about “how should I play the rhythm for the audience?” I was chasing after money and prestige.  As I threw away those minds one by one, at one point, I was enlightened to the Universe being me. I was filled with such a deep happiness. The Universe is originally full of such joy! I understood then when one lives with the true mind, such joy naturally occurs.

The true joy is possible when I am completely emptied. Only then, the original power and sound of Korean classical music can be revealed.

With Yi Jung-hoon, chairman of Goru artistic performance group

Through throwing my mind away, I also understood why I felt drained after performing.  As I was putting more efforts only on me to perform well, it made the performances much farther removed from the original meaning of Korean classical music and drums. After that, my mindset when performing started to change a little each time.  I started to see the importance of a whole performance, not just my own.  Originally, the Korean classical music has a meaning, “a bright music that creates a big oneness.”  So when one reviews the Korean classical music, one does not say “a good performance,” but say “it was profound.” When the Korean classical music is played in a village and people gather to enjoy, even enemies become friends through the music – the joy of music allows them to become one.

I think about this these days. I feel suffering in their minds as I play on a stage – and my job is to ease their minds… The meaning of ‘poong-mul’ means something that makes wind. It seems like through stimulating yin’s energy beautiful sounds are made and they become a rain of blossom to ease their suffering minds. As I clearly understand this logic of music, I am very happy to performing these days.

Going forward, I want to comfort and give joy through the drum sounds all over the world. As the drum sounds alerted a victory of war long ago, I hope people beat the drums of victory by winning their fights with selves through throwing away of their false minds to rediscover their true minds.

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