Hidden under the monotonous school uniform and chained by the tightened everyday schedule, Korean teenagers lack ways to speak out for themselves. For the sake of this tragic situation, university students gathered their heads to create “Soul-kit,” a group which turns teenagers’ stories and worries into a piece of music.
Soul-kit is a project by 30 passionate students who seek to make music that Korean teenagers can truly symphasize with. It started off when two university students realized the absence of music for teenagers and managed to put their thoughts into practice in 2011.
“In high school, I always felt that there was hardly any music that actually cared about or reflected the lives of teenagers,” said Cho Hye-sun (University of London, 3), the co-president of Soul-kit. “Most of them deal with topics inappropriate for teenagers, and the lyrics tend to be meaningless as well.”
Last September, Soul-kit recruited members who were interested in music and teenage issues. Even though all of the members came from different backgrounds, their love and devotion toward music bonded them together as a group to pursue the same ultimate goal of creating the right culture for teenagers.
“I think it is the absence of communication between teenagers and the rest of the world that begets serious issues,” Joo Sung-yup (Sogang University, 2) said. “Soul-kit wishes to become a means of communication for them.”
To make sure that the songs that they create authentically reflect the thoughts of teenagers, Soul-kit held a story contest last December for teenagers to hear them out. From studying burdens to lookism, many topics that have been concerning teenagers became honest stories for Soul-kit to turn into music.
“I remember a story about teenagers and suited-up commuters criticizing each other—one for conforming to society and the other for not being able to dream,” Moon Ji-ae (Sungkyunkwan University, 2) said. “It was made into a song called ‘Monday Morning’ and I think anyone can sympathize with it.”
The members’ efforts were finally materialized on July 25, when the “SOULKIT 2012: First Project Album” was officially released online. The album includes ten tracks, eight of which were written based on real stories sent from teenagers. Furthermore, the first Soul-kit concert was held on Aug. 7 this year in Sangsang-madang Live Hall. More than 200 people attended, filling up the entire hall.
Although the influence has not been wide enough to change all the teenagers in Korea yet, Soul-kit takes pride in providing memorable experiences and trying to make a big difference to those they are able to touch.
“One student with a serious complex on her appearance sent us an essay, and it was selected to be made into a song,” Moon said. “She invited her friends to the concert and told us that sharing her agony with them helped her open up and regain self-confidence. I was so proud.”
Soul-kit also has a positive impact on changing the members’ personal values regarding their lives.
“Before taking part in Soul-kit, my life was all about attending a prestigious university and majoring in business to get a high-profile job,” Joo said. “Through working with the members and encountering people who agreed with us and willingly offered helping hands, I realized the most important value in life: Helping others.”
As Soul-kit’s official activities for this year has ended, the members’ major concern is where to donate their earnings. Among various options, the group has narrowed down to donating to two organizations: A teen suicide center or school violence prevention center, both of which concern the welfare of teenagers. Even though the exact period of the next recruitment for members is still under discussion, Soul-kit plans to continue sharing its passion and goal with the world.
“Soul-kit’s ultimate aim is to trigger more attention towards teenagers,” Cho said. “Although it is just the beginning, I hope such movement continues and empowers young people by showing them that sincere dreams and passion are all you need to make a difference.”
* Reporter: Chung Yoon-young & Chung Che-yoon