Words and art by Ryan Quan
Musical Artist of the Month: This monthly column is JoySauce social media editor Ryan Quan’s attempt at getting you to love these underrated and under appreciated AA+PI artists as much as he does. The series will combine fun facts, conceptual graphic work Ryan’s created as an ode to his favorite lyrics, and a few of each musician’s songs, to give you a crash course on these talented rising stars.
박혜진 Park Hye Jin is a 29-year-old rapper, producer, singer, and DJ originally from Seoul. She has lived in Melbourne, London, and Los Angeles, but recently “moved to somewhere,” as she mysteriously mentioned in a recent post. Over the past year, she has traveled constantly, uploading photos of herself in tank tops and swimsuits and showing off her sun-kissed glow.
But don’t let her sunny Instagram feed fool you—her songs are emotional and heart-rending, showing off her vulnerable side through haunting refrains and tranquil instrumentals on top of infectious house beats. Whether you’re listening at the club or in the comfort of your room, her songs will make you want to dance and cry at the same time.
Alongside Peggy Gou and Yaeji, Park Hye Jin forms the holy trinity of the South Korean house music movement that’s currently taking over the world. K-house is a relatively new phenomenon, only gaining international attention within the past few years. The experimental sound pays homage to the original genre’s characteristic repetitive rhythms and electronic beats and combines them with a deep appreciation for South Korea’s culture, language, and heritage.
Although K-house doesn’t have a specific sound, it tends to be more outwardly emotional than your typical house music. Park Hye Jin definitely embraces her sensitive side in some of her songs, using both Korean and English to convey feelings of yearning, nostalgia, and hopelessness.
Her willingness to explore and express these emotions in her music may actually be due to the nature of her mother tongue. During an interview with HYPEBEAST, Park was asked why she uses Korean lyrics in her songs, and she said, “I actually believe Korean to be the most beautiful language. Is there a more delicate or emotional language? That I do not know.”
Park often repeats her most poignant lyrics, creating mesmerizing, almost hypnotizing choruses with her soft but persistent voice. Her self-produced debut album, Before I Die, expresses a full range of emotions. In one song, she hauntingly repeats, “그저 행복하고 싶어” (Translation: I just want to be happy). In another, she mourns, “I miss my mom, I miss my dad, I miss my sister, I miss my brother."
Not all of her music is melancholic, however. Some of her songs are intensely sexual, expressing her intimate desires without hesitation. In one song's post-chorus, she chants, “We can fuck” over and over after asking for someone’s number.
Park’s forwardness about her desires—both emotional and sexual—is a refreshing change of pace from the Asian norm. So many of us were conditioned to keep our feelings to ourselves. Our parents rarely offer explicit emotional support, and it’s an unfortunate trend for us to bury ourselves in our academic or professional goals instead of dealing with internal conflicts. It’s already inspiring to see an Asian woman succeed in a scene that’s mostly dominated by men, and it’s even more encouraging to hear her express her sorrow and take her sexuality into her own hands unabashedly.
Even though Park’s music is often categorized as K-house, it’s much more complex than that. She incorporates elements of trap, mumble rap, dubstep, and more to create her songs. Her experimental spirit is even more evident if you watch one of her live DJ sets. She seamlessly transitions from one genre to the next; she might have you bopping to a fast-paced footwork track one second before switching to a dreamy indie pop song without skipping a beat.
Whether she’s singing, rapping, or DJing, she looks and sounds so natural, and you can tell how passionate she is about her art. In an interview with Mixmag, Park admitted, “If I wasn’t into music, I wouldn’t be in this world by now.” And we’re beyond grateful that she found her calling.
It looks like Park Hye Jin doesn’t have any upcoming events, but we’re hoping she comes back to the DJ booth sometime soon. We’re also anxiously awaiting new music from her! In the meantime, we’ll keep streaming Before I Die and her EPs, How can I and IF U WANT IT, swaying to the irresistible beats while trying not to cry.
Published on March 1, 2023
Words and art by Ryan Quan
Ryan Quan is the Social Media Editor for JoySauce. This queer, half-Chinese, half-Filipino writer and graphic designer loves everything related to music, creative nonfiction, and art. Based in Brooklyn, he spends most of his time dancing to hyperpop and accidentally falling asleep on the subway. Follow him on Instagram at @ryanquans.