Genre: Pop, Dance
Associated Acts: The Happy Dolls, Fin.K.L,
Years Active: 1970-1992, 1996, 2007, 2013
Nami is one of the shining gems of Korean pop music. She began her career singing at US Army bases in the 1960’s. In the early 70’s she was part of the all-female K-Pop group, The Happy Dolls, a five member group that traveled to the US and Canada because of their involvement with the 8th Army and the entertainment wave that ensued from that era. While performing in The Happy Dolls, she went under the moniker of Ogie Kim. They settled in Vietnam for two years, earning themselves the nickname “The Korean Jackson 5.” The Happy Dolls returned to Seoul in 1973, but never released any more music commercially. In 1980 Nami had landed herself a solo debut with her first album 난 사랑했어요 / 좋아해 (I Love You, I Like You.) Soon, Nami became a household name with hits like Like An Indian Doll and Round & Round (Bingeul Bingeul). You’ll have a hard time navigating through the current K-Pop artists without coming across a cover of Bingeul Bingeul. I’ve seen everyone from No Brain to Big Bang take on this song, and each time it’s such a brilliant take on what was a classic song, originated by Nami herself. You can also see the cast of the highly popular Korean film, Sunny sing along to this song with great vigor. The movie helped to create a whole new generation of fans for Nami. She was one of the hip trendsetters of the 80’s, often know as being fashionable and provocative, leading the way for today’s generation of K-Pop idols.
Nami has what just might be my favorite Korean music video of all time. Can you imagine the people on Venice Beach in the 80’s learning the lyrics to this K-Pop song? No one knew what it was at the time, so I can barely picture what it was like to ask them to read cue-cards and sing along to this obscure song they likely never got to see the music video for. It’s pretty epic, anyway you look at it.
She’s one of the only members of our list that has an active YouTube channel you can check out. Here.