Mini Bio: 인순이 (Insooni)


Queen of R&B, Insooni, is one of Korea’s few successful multiracial artists. She was born on April 9, 1957 to an African-American father and Korean mother in Pocheon, Gyeongi Province. Her father was in the military, and after he was transferred to the US never returned, so she was raised by her mother alone, who was disowned by her family for not leaving her mixed baby. As a result Insooni grew up in a difficult situation to say the least.

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Insooni appeared on the March 5, 2012 episode of KBS Star Life Theater, on which she discussed her father’s absence, and how it affected her growing up.

“I’ve heard that my father played the piano well. It seems that he sometimes also performed at clubs. I can’t honestly say that I’ve felt no ill-will towards my father. I want to ask him why he left. When I was a child, I didn’t know what the village kids and adults said, but as I got older, I heard their words. I thought to myself, ‘Why am I here?’ Three years ago I tried to find him. I thought that if he saw me, he might feel some sense of guilt. But in the end, I couldn’t find him.”

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She released song, “아버지 (Father)” on her 17th album, “Insooni,” in 2009.

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Insooni attended middle school at Cheongsan Middle School in Yeoncheon, Gyeongi Province. She has shared with fans that while attending school she faced much discrimination from her classmates for being the obvious minority, “while attending school I felt like I was dirty compared to my classmates.” In Korea dark skin is a sign of poverty because farm workers were suntanned from working outside while richer people had pale white skin. Due to her struggles she was unable to graduate high school, but was always a good student with high marks, as revealed on KBS Star Life Theater.

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When she was 15 or 16, she and her mother moved to US army base, Camp Casey, where she met 19 year old solider, Ronald Lewis. They became instant friends and he became someone Insooni looked up too as a brother. “Since then, I’ve never forgotten his eyes.” She spoke about the importance of the soldiers from Camp Casey to her life:

“[They] acted sort of like big brothers and surrogate fathers…Before I met them, I had repulsion about Americans because my family background and home environment were difficult, but, after getting along with them, I came to feel all human beings are the same, and Americans are good.”

When Lewis, and Insooni reunited in 2011 he recalled what made her standout to him, “She was always sitting outside by herself, so a few of the soldiers brought her clothes and helped her as much as we could.”


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Insooni turned to music and was able to over come discrimination, and made her debut in 1978 as part of trio, Hee Sisters.

희자매 (Hee Sisters)– 실버들 (Weeping Willow) (1978) 1집- Hee Sisters

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Many people doubted Insooni’s ability to stay popular, but proved them wrong with her solo career. She managed to make her solo debut in 1980 with her first album, “1집 – 인연 (Destiny),” but not without difficulty. She had been banned from TV Shows, and singing competitions for being mixed.

However, in 1983, she released her 4th album and title song, “밤이면 밤마다 (At Night, Every Night)” stayed at #7 on the KBS music chart until 1984.

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Since her debut Insooni has gone on to release 20 albums, and counting, and in 2010 was the 3rd of 5 Koreans to perform at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. She is married with one daughter, Jasmine Park, 19. Insooni has earned herself the title of Korea’s R&B diva, and continues to make waves in the Korean music industry.


Stars and Stripes

The Chosunilbo




4 thoughts on “Mini Bio: 인순이 (Insooni)

  1. I’m so glad she beat all those narrow-minded haters into the dust. Seriously, why take out all the hate on a young child with unfortunate circumstances. Insooni is such an awesome woman with a great pair of lungs. Mo powa, mo powa to her. I must have seen her for the first time years ago when I was watching Korean shows on U.S. TV and I had never seen any black entertainers but there she was just knocking out her tunes with that husky voice, bigger than life and it seemed the audience was going wild. Time sure does change one’s situations.

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