Korean trot star Young Tak in Manila: Talks about career, branching out to drama, BTS  

Korean trot singer Young Tak (영탁) has impressive vocals and powerful stage presence every time he performs.

Young Tak flew to Manila for his Asia Promo Tour arranged by Live Nation Philippines. On Feb. 7, he held a press conference at the Hyatt Regency Manila, City of Dreams attended by Live Nation Korea’s Cho Young-bae, Live Nation Philippines’ Rhiza Pascua, Milagro Entertainment CEO Lee Jae-kyu and Universal Records Philippines’ Kathleen Go.

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

The singer talked about trot, his career including venturing into drama and why he is thankful to BTS.

Trot is popular in South Korea, competing head to head with K-pop. The trot genre emerged during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930s.

“Trot is, we can simply say that it is music that is listened to and enjoyed by the oldies in Korea. Despite the idea of trot being an oldies’ music genre, these days, in this generation, I believe that the trot genre, the walls of distinction of the trot genre is slowly coming down,” said Young Tak about trot music.

He added, “That is why in the different social media platforms like TikTok, my songs like ‘Jjin-iya’ and ‘Why Are You Coming Out From There,’ these types of songs have been the trend and have been popular, which are enjoyed by the smallest kids like from three to four year olds, old people.”

“I believe trot is becoming a universal music genre that everyone can enjoy. With this in mind, I hope to become an artist who does not limit himself but can create music that can be enjoyed by anyone, anytime,” he said.

Popular trot singer

Young Tak is one of the most popular trot singers. In the 2022 year-end survey of favorite singers in South Korea conducted by Gallup Korea, Young Tak placed No. 3 among respondents aged 40 and above.

In the same survey, Young Tak’s version of the song “A Glass of Makgeolli” placed No. 2 among favorite songs of respondents aged 40 and above.

Young Tak started his singing career in 2007 but it was not until 2016 when he ventured into the trot genre. His popularity soared when he joined the TV show “Mr. Trot” in 2020 and placed second through the song "Jjin-iya."

He is very thankful that trot shows like “Mr. Trot” opened the doors for other trot singers to emerge.

“I believe that through such programs, many doors have been opened for many trot singers and I was one of those who received such a chance,” said Young Tak.

His road to success did not come easily. Before his trot career, he faced difficult challenges in his career.

“There was a time in my career when I was hit by reality by the thought that the income as a singer is not enough as we think. I started to teach kids for two to three years. As I was doing that, people around me were complimenting me and saying that ‘I think you are a great teacher’ so I think I was able to continue that those years,” he said.

He revealed that “I can honestly say that during those times, I put down first my music and I was very sad about the truth that I was not able to perform the music that I wanted to show. After that, I was able to get a great opportunity to begin my career again through a Korean reality show called ‘Hidden Singer.’”

Young Tak had a great experience on the show and thought, “Would this become the spark that would rekindle my career as a singer?”

“With that spark, I can say I was able to maintain that momentum and that motivation up to this day,” he said.

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Korean trot singer Young Tak in Manila on Feb. 7 (Jonathan Hicap)

Visit to the Philippines

This is Young Tak’s first visit to the Philippines.

“Everyone knows that in Korea, the Philippines is one of the first places being considered for vacation, beautiful sites, beautiful beaches. Personally, I am one of those who thought of coming to the Philippines to enjoy such beautiful sites although my schedule is too short to experience those things,” he said.

Young Tak said Filipinos are known in South Korea for their singing talent and he hopes to collaborate with Filipino artists in the future.

New album

Last year, Young Tak released his first studio album “MMM” (“Manners Maketh Man”), inspired by the “Kingsman” film.

“I wanted that through my very meaningful album, I wanted to share to listeners about what I experienced in life,” he said.

Last year, he said, through the help of Live Nation, he was able to hold a solo concert tour.

At the 32nd Seoul Music Awards held last Jan. 19, Young Tak bagged the Trot Award.

During the press conference, Young Tak impressed the media when he performed "Jjin-iya” and “MMM.”

As for collaboration with other artists, Young Tak said he had a dream of performing with Luther Vandross, who passed away in 2005.

“A long time ago and until today, it was my dream to perform with him when he was still alive,” he said.

Thankful to BTS for boosting popularity of "Jjin-iya”

Young Tak originally performed "Jjin-iya” on the TV show “Mr. Trot” in 2020, which earned him second place in the finale.

On Dec. 6, 2020, Young Tak performed "Jjin-iya” on the 2020 Melon Music Awards (MMA) Week program.

“I am very thankful to the members of BTS especially Jin because once I had an episode where I was able to perform in an awarding ceremony. And in that awarding ceremony, it overlapped with the birthday of BTS’ Jin ,” said Young Tak.

He added, “As you know, the song that I sing always says ‘Jjin, Jjin, Jjin.’ So BTS were thinking ‘Who is this Jjin, Jjin, Jjhin man?’ That is why my song went viral as well. And I think it became a gateway for my song to be known more.”

“Another episode is when Jin himself was able to show on a TV show. He mentioned that whenever he would take a shower, he would listen to my song ‘Why Are You Coming Out From There.’ I am very thankful for his shoutout. I hope in the future where there is a chance to meet him, I will be able to treat him with delicious food,” Young Tak said.

Venture into drama

Besides singing, Young Tak has appeared in dramas. He had cameo roles in “Kkondae Intern,” “Kingmaker: The Change of Destiny” and “Behind Every Star.”

For the first time, Young Tak will be starring in the drama “Strong Woman Gang Nam-soon,” which will air this year.

The drama stars Lee Yoo-mi, Kim Jung-eun, Kim Hae-sook, Ong Seong-wu and Byeon Woo-seok.

“‘Strong Woman Gang Nam-soon’ is my first ever drama where I get to be seen in all the episodes. Before that, I was able to join dramas in cameo roles. Whenever I was able to join as a cameo, I realized that it was very fun to work as an actor as well,” he explained.

Young Tak said he would like to venture into acting.

“Acting is a very fun career to do as well. So I would like to continue this and hopefully, in the future, I would also have parts of different great movies,” he said.

In his parting words, Young Tak said he is happy to be able to visit the Philippines and perform.

He is thankful for the different people he met, activities he joined, stages where he performed and broadcasts in which he appeared.

“I think this is a big miracle for me. The truth is I am a singer who stopped and gave up because I had no income. But through those experiences, it became a big motivation for me to live a better life for my future,” he said.

Young Tak said he always says, “We will see each other again.”

“Because our gathering is the start of a new connection, I think that time will come when I will come back. And in the future, I hope that Filipino listeners and fans can experience my performance of my songs in the flesh,” he said.