First-Generation K-Pop Legend Shows The Harsh Reality Of “Aging” In The K-Pop Industry

She once had hit songs, but things changed in 10 years.

One of Korea’s most iconic singers recently revealed what it felt to “age” while newer K-Pop acts entered the charts.

Uhm Jung Hwa performing “Festival” in 1999 | KBS 

Uhm Jung Hwa is a renowned singer and actress in Korea who is known for her dance hits that dominated the music charts in the late 1990s and 2000s. She is known to have influenced the next generation of K-Pop singers who looked up to her, such as BoA, Sandara Park, Son Dambi, Girls’ Generation‘s Tiffany, and more.

Uhm Jung Hwa performing “Invitation” in 1998 | KBS

Her songs “Rose of Betrayal,” “Poison,” “Festival,” “I Don’t Know,” and more, are legendary hits that Koreans and K-Pop fans can recognize immediately.

Uhm Jung Hwa performing “I Don’t Know” in 1999 | KBS 

She continues to be loved by the public through her acting in popular K-Dramas and films, such as Haeundae (2009), Dancing Queen (2012), Our Blues (2022), and Doctor Cha (2023).

Uhm Jung Hwa in the K-Drama “Doctor Cha” | JTBC

Recently, she gained more love and attention because of the tvN reality show Dancing Queens on the Road, where she starred alongside fellow divas: Lee Hyori, Kim Wan Sun, BoA, and MAMAMOO‘s Hwasa.

Kim Wan Sun, Uhm Jung Hwa, Lee Hyori, BoA, and Hwasa (left to right) | Money Today

On October 10, Uhm Jung Hwa was interviewed to talk about her upcoming movie MISS FORTUNE. During the interview, she mentioned her Dancing Queens on the Road co-star and singer Lee Hyori, who is coming out with an album soon.

She expressed how excited she is for Lee Hyori’s new music and talked about how difficult it is for artists to release songs after a long hiatus. She mentioned that when she released her song “Ending Credit” in 2017, it had been ten years since her last song, which was “D.I.S.C.O” in 2008. She revealed that her releases after her hiatus didn’t do well on the music charts.

I’ve been waiting so much for Hyori’s album. When I first released the album Ending Credit in the past, it had been 10 years since ‘D.I.S.C.O.’ But it didn’t go up in the music charts. When I released the song ‘Dreamer,’ it didn’t even make it to the top 100 charts.

— Uhm Jung Hwa

Uhm Jung Hwa in her music video for her song “Ending Credit” | MYSTIC STORY

She admitted that seeing her song from ten years ago chart but seeing her new song failing to make the top 100 chart discouraged her.

‘D.I.S.C.O’ easily made it to the top 10, but within ten years, everything changed. Maybe it was shock at the time, but it made me lose courage.

— Uhm Jung Hwa


Uhm Jung Hwa revealed that losing her confidence made her think about her age. She showed her support for Lee Hyori, who she believes gained courage to release a song after many years because of the success of Dancing Queens on the Road.

I was old, too distant, and aging. I thought to myself, ‘Is this reality?’ Anyway, I think Hyori also didn’t have the courage at first. Of course, Hyori is enjoying her life, but I think this time, she had the courage to release an album because of Dancing Queens on the Road. I’m so so happy and believe that Hyori needs to keep going. I’m very much looking forward to this album. Where else can you find a singer like Hyori?

— Uhm Jung Hwa


Lastly, when asked about her experience getting shocked by the continuously moving music industry, she shared that her song from 2016, “Dreamer,” was not very mainstream as K-Pop had evolved by then. Although her songs from 2010 and up did not succeed as much as her hits from the 1990s and 2000s, Uhm Jung Hwa stated that there were fans who loved all her songs, which gave her the courage to keep going.

But I have fans who love my songs like ‘Dreamer’ and ‘Ending Credit.’ And songs like ‘Ending Credit,’ are loved by my junior artists. So, I find it meaningful. Since I received a lot of courage from those songs, I found the reason why I should keep going.

— Uhm Jung Hwa

Uhm Jung Hwa performing with her juniors, LE SSERAFIM, at the Weverse Con Festival | @umaizing/Instagram

Uhm Jung Hwa debuted as an actress in 1992 with the movie The Marriage Life and debuted as a singer the year after with the album Sorrowful Secret.

Uhm Jung Hwa’s first album “Sorrowful Secret”

She remains one of the biggest stars in K-Pop history who continues to show audiences new sides of her through her acting and performing. Her new film MISS FORTUNE is set to be released on October 11.

Check out her song “Ending Credit” from 2017.

Source: Osen