Against All Odds: Lang Lee Is Still Winning Awards For Her Music

Her desire to create solidarity with listeners drives her to continue her music.

Five years have passed since Lang Lee won the Best Folk Song award for her song “Playing God” at the 14th Korean Music Awards, only to sell her award on the same night for ₩500,000 KRW (about $373 USD) to help with her daily upkeep.


Since then, Lang Lee continued to produce and perform her soulful brand of music, which is sadly overshadowed by the more popular music forms. Despite this reality, Lang Lee has stayed faithful to her art, going against the tide by sticking to her music style and themes.

I prefer to write songs when I’m not happy and tell people about the hardships, thinking they may have the same concerns.

— Lang Lee

Last year, Lang Lee released her third album, “There is a Wolf,” which underscores poverty and injustice in a capitalist society. Through her songs, Lee stated that she tried to foster a bond between her and the listeners by singing about her turmoil as a member of society.

“There is a Wolf” won the Discovery of the Year Award in the Seoul Music Awards in January and the Album of the Year and Best Folk Album at the Korean Music Awards in April.

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She started her career when she was only 16 as a monthly magazine cartoonist, dealing with poverty since childhood. She took out a student loan to study film but branched out to music in her early twenties, figuring the turnaround time for earning money would be faster for performing than filmmaking.

Now at 35, her financial struggle continues as she laments the reality that people do not regard art as a proper profession.

Artists should get reasonable payments when they share thoughts or deliver performances in front of an audience. It’s our ‘paid work.’

— Lang Lee

Lang Lee has expanded her career to illustrations, filmmaking, and writing, to continue delivering her messages. Despite her struggles, her endless curiosity about the world led her to continue with her music, hoping to create solidarity with her listeners.

I want to tell people what kind of life Lang Lee is having. At the same time, I want to be an artist who can interact with people by sharing thoughts and exchanging what each other can give to support one another.

— Lang Lee

She firmly believes openly discussing life’s difficulties is cathartic.

I think it is problematic that my songs are considered unique. Wishing for a world without poverty and discrimination, I’m hoping my songs will be considered ordinary, like other ordinary love songs.

If there are people who want me to sing songs like ‘There Is a Wolf,’ it means that we’re still living in an unfortunate world. If so, we should have more opportunities to talk openly about the difficulties.

— Lang Lee



Source: Artist Lang Lee sings about the less fortunate, the weak