Behind the Scenes, Our Favourite People in Kpop: Kim Eana, lyricist

We are launching our new regular feature looking at the people in K-pop that you don’t often see. These are some of the most important people in the industry, working hard behind the scenes to bring you all your favourite acts. Sometimes it can be difficult to find out about the creative talent behind what you see and hear in K-pop so we will be trying our best to bring you information about some of the most interesting people working in the Korean pop industry today. 

Who is she?

Kim Eana is a lyricist who works primarily with artists signed to Nega Network and LOEN Entertainment. In particular, Brown Eyed Girls, IU and Sunny Hill.

What do I know her from?

She wrote the lyrics for most of IU, Brown Eyed Girls and Sunny Hill’s biggest hits and has won awards for her work with composer Lee Minsoo on IU’s Good Day and BEG’s Abracadabra. She has also written lyrics for other artists including SHINee’s Hello and album tracks for Super Junior and Infinite.

Why do we like her so much?

Kim Eana is very unusual in the world of Kpop lyrics in that she takes her work very seriously. In an industry full of predictable, repetitive lyrics about unrequited love and heartbreak, her work stands out for it’s unusual, sometimes profound and occasionally controversial subject matters.

In her work for Sunny Hill in particular, Kim Eana has written some of the most insightful lyrics in all of K-pop, tackling big social issues in modern Korean society. Their last two singles have given a really interesting take on Korea’s ultra-competitive culture and the negative impact that it has on everyone. In ‘The Grasshopper Song’, she discusses the need to step out of the rat race and the importance of taking time to find the things that make you happy. She gives further insight into societal pressures with ‘Is The White Horse Coming?’ which criticises choosing partners based on their ability to enhance social status (i.e. their good looks and money) rather than love and compatibility. This song has some really great lines particularly ‘Please don’t compare and analyse us, we are not cows’ and ‘Why is everyone using people as investments? Just go get a job at a bank’.

Korea has an incredibly competitive education system and job market which places a huge amount of pressure on individuals to be the best. In a country with such high levels of competitiveness which is arguably the cause of many of the major issues in society: rampant plastic surgery; high suicide rates etc., she is not afraid to use her lyrics to make people think. This is especially impressive as she is working as part of the industry which helps create and propagate many of the ideas she speaks out against. But don’t take my word for it, Eat Your Kimchi made a great video about why The Grasshopper Song is so clever here:

Beyond just writing the song, she also often works closely with the director of the videos for her songs to create a visual representation of the meaning and themes of her lyrics. She released information through her blog about the symbolism behind Brown Eyed Girls’ 2011 comeback ‘Sixth Sense’ (you can read a translation here). This video is typical of the videos Kime Eana works on, particularly with director Hwang Soo Ah, going a little bit deeper than the standard dance video with symbolism, mythical references and interesting storylines. Another example of this is IU’s You&I which took a K-pop standard, a ballad about unrequited love, and integrated fantasy elements to create a song with a unique time travel storyline. The story of this song is truly brought to life in the beautifully filmed, steampunk inspired music video which is, in my opinion, one of the best K-pop videos of 2011.

Finally she wrote the lyrics for and was involved in music video production for Brown Eyed Girls’ Ga in’s most recent solo mini-album. The lead single ‘Bloom’ is, in itself, a good enough reason to pay attention to Kim Eana. Together, the song and video create an exceptionally brave and artistic portrayal of female sexuality which is so frequently exploited in K-pop but is rarely discussed and explored in such an open way.

Why should I pay attention to her?

Kim Eana's Cat, Bongsamee

The most well-connected cat in K-pop

Kim Eana has a twitter account which is run under the name of her cat, Bongsamee, on which she (pretending to be her cat) has funny interactions with the stars she works with as well as keeping fans up to date with what is happening behind the scenes in the studio and on set.It’s nearly all in Korean but you can often find translations on K-pop news and fan websites.

All in all she’s a really talented lyricist that doesn’t shy away from more difficult subjects and tries to challenge and inspire listeners (or readers, in the case of non-Korean speaking fans). She is also partially responsible from many of K-pop’s most artistic videos and works closely with her artists and video directors to create a shared vision. She is one of the few people who tries to give fans and outsiders a real insight into K-pop behind the scenes.

Let us know in the comments what you think of this article and if there are any other people you think we should look at.