Vongku Pak '05 blends eastern and western art forms with his unique brand of musical expression.

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A Korean Folk Artist, by Way of Brooklyn

March 18, 2013

When Vongku Pak '05 enrolled in Brooklyn College's theater program, he was already a seasoned musician, having studied with nationally recognized artists in his native Korea. But it was his experience here that helped him to crystallize his creative vision and prepare him to showcase his work to audiences around the globe.

In this video, theater major Vongku Pak '05 discusses his music and the release of his album, “Electric Shaman.”

After arriving in New York City in 1998, Pak began performing in subway stations, sponsored by the MTA's public arts program, Music Under New York. His Korean folk music performances included a combination of traditional village songs, drumming and other instrumental pieces, and religious and ritual music.

"The Korean folk arts have many theatrical elements," says Pak, who has been featured on programs like PIX 11 Morning News and Fox TV's Good Day New York. "I wanted to approach them from a Western viewpoint and combine them." By "them," Pak means a cross-cultural mix of Korean and western music, as well as classical, electronic, pop, hip-hop, reggae, theater, and spoken word.

After earning his B.A. in theatre, Pak continued to perform throughout New York City, moving from the outdoor and underground stages to Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and many other noted venues. He has also performed across the nation and completed a tour of 15 European countries.

Pak's talents are not limited to performance. He has taught Korean folk music at several schools throughout New York City, including Horace Mann, Newcomers High School, Korean School of Staten Island, Columbia University, New York University, and Yale University.

Even though Pak is a respected and well-known performer and music educator, he tells college students that artistic careers can be a slow climb. "Theater or art school can give you your dream, but you have to prepare yourself for how you can survive and maintain your artistic journey."

Last year Pak, released his album "Electric Shaman" on iTunes, and is scheduled to perform at the Flushing Town Hall on April 9. He has also received a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council to continue his unique, cross-cultural work.

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