EDITING : 2017.12.20 수 00:03
The Gachon Herald
Guitarist Kim Ji-hee, who overcomes disorder barrier with cultural art and the story about developmental disorderSubtitle: Guitarist Kim Ji-hee, who grows against social prejudice
Park Yeon-Sun  |  errdustjs@naver.com
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Updated : 2017.12.15  11:36:53
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In recent society, some people are struggling with physical disorders from inside and outside.

Moreover, some people are struggling with mental disorders. A developmentally handicapped person like a mentally deficient person or autistic person who has a lack of cognitive power and communication ability is about 10% of Korea's whole disabled people. A developmentally- handicapped person experiences difficulty in workplaces and is exposed to ill-treatment, fraud, and even sexual violence. For these people, here is Guitarist Kim, Ji-hee who is sharing hope by her guitar performance. I met her and listened to how she could overcome and grew to be a cool guitarist. I interviewed her mother instead of Kim Ji-hee because she has a hard time communicating.



1. Korea still has lots of prejudice about disabled people, so I think you had a hard time because of prejudice. I wonder what kind of difficulty did you face and how you overcame it.

It was hard to give birth to Ji-hee because I was in the preputial placenta. I raised Ji-hee for a long time before I recognized that she was 2 to 3 years behind normal kids in. She finally said "Mom" to me when she was six years old. Eventually she was classified as “Intellectual disability Ⅱ” by the hospital; there were lots of difficulties from the disability. First, because of a lack of learning ability, it was difficult to obtain a general education at school. I wanted to send Ji-hee to Music College, but I had to give up when I heard many students learn iconology by computer in college. Moreover, because of a lack of vocabulary and communication ability, she couldn’t make any non-disabled friends until she graduated from high school. When she was young, she had difficulty going even 200m from the house but she met the guitar and gained courage on stage so that in this way, she could overcome all things. ,

Her stage performances, made her memorize several pieces of music. She had a lack of confidence because of difficulty with communication, but she gained confidence on the road, cafe and subway station performances. So playing on stage has become a real education in actual action for Ji-hee.


2. What kind of genre does Ji-hee play?

 Ji-hee is a finger-style guitarist. Finger-style performance can handle various genres like classic, jazz, blues, and rock. Using finger-style she can express the song's melody, base line, and rhythm at the same time, so that we can liken it to a little orchestra. Ji-hee is still learning so she can't handle all genres, but she loves to play folk and pop songs, except lyrical genre play. Currently, there is Rylynn McKee composed by Andy McKee, which Ji-hee currently like to play.


3. Except for performance, has Ji-hee thought about teaching the guitar to others?

 If we have an opportunity, we'd like to. Ji-hee is growing as a guitarist but still has difficulty teaching other people who are mentally deficient. She is reading tab sheet music because she has difficulty reading normal sheet music like other guitarists. Here, tab music sheet is composed of a number of lines that represent six lines and frets. Unlike other music sheets commonly used by other players, it is made easy to read. Maybe Ji-hee can teach reading tab sheet music or high chords, but deeper content would be difficult for her. I think if she went to a music academy with her youngest sister who majors in piano and teaches kids someday, it would be great.


4. I want to listen to a performance that you played this year or planning for the next year. What performance do you want to do?

This year we played at the Gwanghwamun square with singer and professor Choo Ga-yeol for the disabled person cultural arts festival on September 14. Also, we participated in the final competition of Special K awards held on September 22 and got the silver medal. I don't know about next year yet. Ji-hee usually performs when she ever she wants to. In fact, in July 2016, a performance director helped us to open a mini-concert which was full of Ji-hee's paintings in LA writer's house. But more than that, we want to exhibit Ji-hee’s various paintings while she is playing for visitors.


5. Do you have a plan to release a record?

This year at fusion Gugak, team Byeolmaroo's 10th-anniversary concert which was held at Gugakdang, we released two songs called 'HAPPY' with Byeolmaroo’s team. These two songs are given to us as presents from Byeolmaroo's composer, so we were very happy. Nowadays, we are practicing a song called 'Mom's appearance from behind' which is given by Ji-hee's guitar teacher.


6. I wonder about the most meaningful episodes that you have participated in.

The first is, Ji-hee played the guitar for all the athletes of the world on February 5, 2013, at the Pyeongchang Special Olympics closing ceremony. Secondly, Ji-hee’s role model, Jeong Seong-ha invited Ji-hee to play the guitar as a special guest. That was such a wonderful performance. The most memorable episode was about Korean army soldiers. When I watch soldiers cheering for K-pop girl group's performance, I just thought that it would be great if Ji-hee can hear that same kind of cheer. So we wanted to challenge it. Luckily, we were invited twice by Kimpo Marine Corp., and we opened the empathy-talk-concert as a guitarist who is sharing hope. Despite our worries, the reaction was so hot. Many soldiers are said to have suicidal impulses, suffer from loneliness, and depression. Ji-hee's performance touched these people, and some of them cried while she was performing. After the concert, we were so happy when we got a Facebook message from one of the soldiers that he had received life's passion through Ji-hee's performance.


7. I heard that you're doing lots of performance for charities. Do you have any hope for those groups?

As a guitarist, Ji-hee has grown out from the shade of her mother and is now at the window.. For now, I hope government and charities are more willing to be a window and fence for many disabled artists. Sure, I'm so thankful to many governments and charities' supports, but I would ask them to provide giving at the various stages for disabled artists. Having wider scope of activities, many disabled artists can enjoy opportunities.


8. What do you want to say to those who are suffering from similar difficulties?

I want to say, when you try hard then the dream comes true. But the important thing is nothing can be accomplished in just one day. I think if someone faces their challenges over and over, finally they will find a lot of work and opportunities. So let's try our best from the beginning to the end.



If people had to choose a disorder among vision, sense of hearing, olfaction, and intelligence, they would choose one considering their situation. But there is no option for people who are now having the disorder. But there are lots of social organizations which are giving many cultural opportunities. Also, many disabled people are struggling themselves to expand their opportunity. I hope many students improve their biased perception of disabled people through just seeing Kim Ji-hee's efforts and social movements. Also, I hope students gain their own guts in their own field.

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