Yesterday Broken Valentine shared the sad news that their vocalist Van (Kim Kyung Min) had passed away in a unexpected and tragic accident, aged only 32. This is heart breaking news for the thirteen year old group, and fans alike. This week’s Indie Spotlight plays tribute to Van’s contribution to the Korean Indie scene, and his work with Broken Valentine.
Broken Valentine were one of the first Korean rock groups I discovered many years ago, and although I’d long wanted to write about them I never once thought it would be in these circumstances.
Broken Valentine are known for their post-grunge alternative rock, Van on the writing credits for many of their songs. Although they only became known as Broken Valentine in 2007, after all of the members had returned from military service, the group had been together for five years previous to the solidifying of their identity.
They’ve clocked up plenty of awards, they were even the first group to ever win two awards in the same year at the Grand Final of the Asia Beat Competition (Grand Prize, and Best Composer Award). It was Answer Me, the song composed by Byun G for this competition, that went on to become one of their most popular track.
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They are probably most known for their appearance on the first season of KBS’ Top Band in 2011, they were eliminated by Toxic but that didn’t hinder Broken Valentine. They’d been early favourites in the competition and from that moment their career was set. They played festival after festival; played for MC Sniper on the first season of Show Me The Money; released two albums and a whole host of EPs; and the group even worked on B.A.P’s First Sensibility album.
It was Van’s vocals that drew me to the group, they embodied everything I’d long appreciated about rock music, particularly the perfect blend of emotion and rock attitude encapsulated in Van’s voice.
I grew up in the 90s and early 00s, the perfect time to be an alt teen, with the mainstream peak of pop-punk hitting as the century turned. Van’s vocals, and the music of Broken Valentine, reminded me ten years later of many of the groups I’d long loved then. I couldn’t help but fall in love with their music too.
Van is, was, the epitome of Rock Star, in visual and most importantly in talent – there’s only so much jumping around shirtless in skinny jeans one can get away with in a band before really needing to show some talent.
Van was one hell of a showman, in fact the entire band is formed of high energy rockers that know how to capture an audience. Van, and his fellow members, are from the age of rockers that embraced the indie scene for exactly what it was, a bunch of musicians just playing the music they loved for anyone that cared enough to appreciate it. Fame and money was a bonus, though never guaranteed, and that didn’t matter so long as they could play.
This is a man who felt no less rock and roll belting out a Lady Gaga track, a task he took on for the Top Band competition and later at festivals with skill, and style.
Van may be gone, but his contribution to Broken Valentine, and Korea’s alternative music scene will not be forgotten. His spirit and talent will live on as fans continue to appreciate and share the music he created.
So today why not spend a short while watching the videos here, remember Van for what he did best, I certainly will.
We send our condolences to the family and friends of Van, and to the Broken Valentine family who are less a brother.
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