Lee Heemoon’s Order​-​made Repertory ZAP

by Lee Heemoon

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Lee Heemoon’s Order-made Repertory ZAP

‘Jabga’ is a subgenre in Korean traditional music. Sung by professional singer/storyteller ‘sorikkun,’ it was a form of pop music that enjoyed massive popularity during the Joseon Dynasty, now passed down to the total 12 songs called ‘12 jabga.’
While the word ‘ZAP’ means ‘different things randomly mixed’ or ‘unsophisticated and shallow,’ jabga has now become a genre fairly hard to approach, due to its musical difficulty contrary to its literal meaning of easiness or crudeness. After enjoying the biggest popularity in the past at the lowest social stratum, at present it is in an ironical position of being at the highest, and considered boring and difficult to approach.
In this context, Lee Heemoon attempts to restore the essential significance and beauty of ‘12 jabga,’ which is becoming more and more congealed and caged, while inviting experts from completely various disciplines(dance, music, stage directing) in an order-made process to offer an unfamiliar and experimental form of ‘12 jabga,’ a colorful set of ‘12 stages.’ The result was the first chapter of Lee Heemoon’s Order-made Repertory, ‘ZAP’, and this album includes 6 songs with the collaboration with music director Lee Taewon, Music Group Gomool and sorikkun Jeong Eunhye.

‘ZAP’, statement

Jabga sings prose. And it is rather lost, somewhat clueless in terms of the ways to get around to it, to what is not even properly, sufficiently prose. The desire of prose is to say what it wants to say, without reservation. The era that started to dissolve restrictions on words, however, did not know how to deal with musical restrictions, making those word that transgressed restrictions sporadically embedded in the established music, without their new coordinates. Jabga itself would be able to evolve whenever it wants; but this project tried to scrape the words of jabga that were melting away, as if a kid trying to receive snowflakes into the hands. I tried to listen to words, tried to talk back, warned people that those are actually words, and sometimes chatted together while mirroring the words’ intentions in different shapes. But a moment that is almost unrecognizable to us is just enough, for the snowflakes to melt and leave our hands.

Lee Heemoon
Taking Gyeonggi minyo(popular folk tunes from Geyonggi region in Korea), which is a vast source of repertories, as his motif, Lee Heemoon has been bringing traditional vocal music that has been on the margin of Korea’s arts scene into the center of his works and suggesting new ways to enjoy vocal music through his unique voice, while often attempting a conversion of genres.
- Taught by Goh Joorang, Lee Chunhe, Kim Gwangsook and Kim Hoseong
- Officially trained in the National Intangible Cultural Property no.57, Gyeonggi Minyo
- 2010 The President’s Award at the 16th National Minyo Singing Contest
- 2014 Minyo Award at KBS Korean Music Awards 

- 2015 Today’s Young Artist Award as a Contributor in Development of Arts and Culture

Lee Taewon
Member of Music Group Gomool. Recently he has been involved in the film MANSHIN: Ten Thousand Spirits(Chankyong Park), Factory Complex(Heungsoon Im), Our President(Changjae Lee), theatre The Divine Comedy by Dante(Taesook Han) and dance AlreadyNotYet(Aesoon Ahn)

Music Group Gomool
Founded in 2002, the group has collaborated with a wide range of artists across various disciplines, mainly including staged documentaries such as Seven Ways to Approach Gagok: A Life and Death of A Song, Three Debates about Korean Music, The Beautiful Swan, Two Explanations on Musical Geometry and Korean Musicalists. They are currently working on their new piece, When Did We Say Goodbye to Lee Heemoon?


released August 12, 2019


Main Vocal | Lee Heemoon
Sub Vocal | Jeong Eunhye
Chorus | Shin Seungtae, Jo Wonseok
Instruments | Music Group Gomool
Daegeum | Go Jinho
Yanggeum, keys | Kim Solmi
Haegeum | Park Yeonji
Percussion | Hong Sangjin
Gayageum | Hong Yejin
Piri | Bae Seungbin

Production | Lee Heemoon Company
Recording Producer | Lee Taewon
Recording and Mastering | Oh Younghoon
Recording Studio | AkdangEban, Inc.
Distribution | Production GOGEUM Co., Ltd.


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gogeum Seoul, South Korea

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Track Name: Sipjang-ga(Ten blows of punishment)
Living outside the south gate of Namwon City in Jeolla Province
Poor Chunhyang, the daughter of Wolmae, is sad and miserable
At the first blow of punishment, she says: how come the moment I profess to be forever faithful to my husband comes this terrible punishment of seven blows
Second blow, she says: I am not devoted to two husbands, as one does not serve two kings. I can’t speak two different truths unless I’m a child of two different fathers
Third blow, she says: my noble husband reveres the fundamental rule of morality
I, Chunhyang, and Lee tied the knots when the spring flowers and willows bloom, I cannot obey the magistrate’s order
Fourth blow, she says: doesn’t our magistrate know the classics of Confucianism?
The strongest winds and snow can’t bend the green bamboos and pines, I cannot obey the magistrate’s words even if you would tear off my limbs
Fifth blow, she says: I can never forget my husband who is away
Will he come back today, or will he tomorrow? I only want to see him and be with him, my husband who is brave and honorable
Sixth blow, she says: even Suqin, the leader of six countries wouldn’t persuade me, even if you trap our love with tough ropes and throw it into the mountains
I will never forgo my sacred promise of love
Seventh blow, she says: even if you drop our love into rough currents of a river, my love will only grow, letting us be together like the Cowherd and Weaver Girl whose love was never faded by distance
Track Name: Chulin-ga(Song of invitation)
Hyangdan brings green peppers, kimchi, octopus and abalones to accompany yellow soju with some honey, and we go out to Orijeong Pavilion
Which year and which hour will we reunite for me to hold my long-waited love in my arms? Love, love, my love
Ehh- Ohwadungghe my heaven and earth
When will you come back if you go now, what an aching promise, will we meet when the spring colors return, when the flowers bloom next year
Let’s play, stay and play, you, and me, me, and you, let’s enjoy ourselves
Backs touching and tummies leaning, not to wake a deep sound sleep
Somebody comes to shake me saying wake up, wake up
I wake from the sleep that was hard to fall into, open my eyes to find that was my love
I finally met my love but morning is coming before we talk about our thoughts and feelings, I only put my agony into words
Let’s play, stay and play, you, and me, me, and you, let’s enjoy ourselves
We play today, we play tomorrow, shall we play day and night
They say we live for 70 years, but how many days do we really have if we sleep at nights?
Track Name: Bangmul-ga(Song of goods)
My husband tries to stop his love and say goodbye, but he can’t leave without me
Today I send him off but let me follow you where you go
Take me, take me, take me with you, take me with you to Seoul
I’m dying, dying, I’m dying because of you
What do you want me to give you? Tell me all your wishes
Shall I build a magnificent house on the most precious land, with beautiful rooms, decorated windows and a splendid roof?
What do you want me to give you? Tell me all your wishes
Shall I give you exquisite makeup, a mirror for your face, a jade ring, golden hairpin, garland with marbles and bridal crown with seven jewels?
What do you want me to give you? Tell me all your wishes
How about household goods like a closet with dragon and phoenix drawn on it, elegant desk, triple decker cabinet with mother-of-pearl, double decker chest, lovebirds bed, quilted pillow and chamber pot to fill the house?
What do you want me to give you? Tell me all your wishes
How about some fine clothes like a purple blouse, silk jacket, patterned skirt, silky underpants, inside and outside socks of cotton from Goyang and Mongolia, and embroidered violet shoes deserving someone in the palace?
What do you want me to give you? Tell me all your wishes
Shall I shower you with jewelries like silver, gold, coral hairpins, Buddha-hand ornaments, Eunjangdo knife with minute drawings, and a pile of ornament knots with marbles?
What do you want me to give you? Tell me all your wishes
I don’t want it, I don’t want it, I don’t want any of it
I don’t want extravagant house or luxurious clothes and jewelries. Take me on horseback to go with you, follow you
Track Name: Hyeongjang-ga(Song of punishment)
With a whip, thick club or triangular stick, will they flog me once and make a guess? Will they hit me twice and stop? Thirty harsh blows make my guts and heart ache and suffer
I’m caught, I’m caught, finally Chunhyang is caught and being punished
The magistrate’s order is strict so there would be no mercy
Did I steal the country’s crops? How come I’m under such severe punishment?
Did I murder someone? How come I’m shackled and chained, I didn’t kill anyone
Did I defy the interrogators? Why are you trying to break my bones? Sad and pitiful, poor mother of Chunhyang
As she turns the corner to the prison with some food for me, she begs me to say yes to the magistrate. Oh mother, don’t say those words, what do you ask me such a thing
I’d rather die here than to accept what he says
O the wild geese who cry at the cold wind of dawn, tell my husband if you ever fly to Seoul
Kill me, kill me, the new magistrate, please kill me
Save me, save me, my husband in Seoul, please save me
My fair legs are covered with blood and wounds, am I dying so helplessly?
Drops of pearly tears run down my white face. The cold wind from cliff and river blows like arrows, and fleas and bugs bite me everywhere
Ume flowers sprouting from the cliff seem to welcome me, mysteriously dropping into the flowing water and surging up from each wave
Track Name: Jipjang-ga(Chunhyang and the executioner)
Look at the executioner, how he ties Chunhyang to the rack, grabs an armful of all the punishment tools and lays out in front of her
The patrols line up left and right with tools in their hands, waiting for an order
She says: I’ve got nothing to say, just kill me in front of the magistrate
Look at the executioner, how he chooses a tool, picking one lazily, picking another slyly, leering at Chunhyang
He says: lift those legs, or the bones are gonna break
Close your eyes, don’t look, you won’t be punished even if I die, don’t worry, no need to be concerned
Look at the executioner, how he chooses a tool and gladly runs toward her, how he is like a guard of the gate of hell trying to swing an iron mace
Like a thunder in a narrow valley, like a lightening onto an open field, he backs up ten meters and runs in five, giving a hard, hard blow
Oh my god, what is happening to me?
Haha, listen to me, you silly girl, flowers bloom but have to wither, leaves sprout but fall off soon to helplessly flutter to violent gusts of wind
Skim down the green willows into the water that curves and waves and flow down the currents softly idling, oh how you defy words
Track Name: Sochunhyang-ga(A small song of Chunhyang)
Look at Chunhyang, how she covers the sunlight with her left hand with her right hand up high, toward the bamboo forest
Plant bamboo, they thrive; plant pines, you get a pavilion
There’s a pavilion by the pond on the east, and a well on the west
Ume flowers and chrysanthemums on the streets and cranes at the front gate
Drooping willows and slack old pines feel the rhythm of strong winds, pleasantly dancing about
It’s the house where a shaggy dog looks out the twig gate toward the faraway mountains, so make sure you come back at dusk
How she leaves me like this, it makes me burn with yearning, who on earth are you, a girl who tricks me so often? Aha
What kind of girl are you, making a man feel so desperate?
The sun is so slow to go down when the trees are richly green and grass is dense, and the night flies by so fast when the moon is on the branches of a Paulownia tree
How empty, the years without love. The face of youth and beauty grew old in vain
If I collect my tears, it would be a river to carry me to where he is; our bedroom is so close yet it must seem a thousand miles for him, it’s hopelessly sad to look at it