Updated: Dec 23, 2019
By YASUTAKA TAMURA
Eun Gyo Joung, known as Andy, looked up the ceiling, and took a deep breath. He was standing at the stage with other performers. The light was shed on them. The hall was warm. The sweats were on some performers’ faces. They were waiting for the announcement of the results of the semi-final.
The organizer announced the third place. It wasn’t him. Second place. It wasn’t him either. His name had not been called yet. He took another deep breath and closed his eyes. After a while, a cheer went up. He won first place in of the semi-final, and got a ticket to the final.
Eun Gyo is a Korean student who studies Global Business Journalism at Tsinghua University. He participated Baiweisheng, the biggest singing competition at Tsinghua University. Baiweisheng is the one of the most popular competitions at the university, and few international students make the finals. Eun Gyo participated in the original songs division. He placed first at the semi-final on Oct. 28.
Eun Gyo was born in Seoul, Korea, in March, 1996. He moved to San Francisco at the age of three. He spent seven years in the States, and moved back to Seoul. When he was in the States, it was “one of the best times to watch movies.” As he grew up as a teenager with movies, he was interested in music. “The music has a lot to do how the scene feels like,” he said. “When it comes to the storytelling, telling emotion. So, I really love music,” later he added.
But music means more than the storytelling to him.
“I was very unhappy growing up,” he said. He grew up in Daechi-dong, Seoul. When he was at the fifth grade, he went to an academy after school. He said the academy sometimes ended at four in the morning. Even though he had to go to school at 8:30 a.m. the next day. “Music and film also helped me get through those times,” he said.
After he graduated from middle school in 2012, he came to Beijing, China. He came here alone apart from his family. “I was very lonely,” said Eun Gyo. And he was also stressed. When he came to Beijing, he spoke no Chinese. He said he had to study hard to catch up with others.
“It [music] really helped me relieve stress,” he said. “Whenever I produced music, I was writing a diary in a musical format.”
He bought an acoustic guitar. And he played it whenever he was stressed. “So, whenever I played the guitar, they [his old friends] were like ‘what’s wrong?’”
But learning music was never easy for him. He struggled to master the basic guitar skill. “All my friends got a barre chord in one to two months, but it took me six months,” he said. “But everyone else around me gave up [playing guitar], and I’m the only one that still does music,” later he added. “I’m a slow learner, but I never give up.”
He always wanted to be an artist. After he learned some basic guitar skills, he started making his own songs. To be an artist, he “needs attention.” And he participated Baiweisheng last year.
It was his first time to perform in front of crowds. And he was afraid of crowds. As a result, he failed at the semi-final. His roommate was also there, and watched his performance. “He was really nervous last year,” said Xiaoyu Yang, his roommate who is a PhD student at Tsinghua. “[His] hands were shaking,” later he added.
His failure was “the turning point” for him. “I can’t perform like this,” he said. Since then, he worked hard to improve not only his singing skill, but also his performance skill.
To improve his performance skill, Eun Gyo went into crowds as possible as he could. “Even in our class [at the university], when I get the chance, I try to go out and talk about something. Even I’m scared,” he said. “You can’t, in fact, get rid of your fears. It is impossible,” later he said. “But you can get braver.”
He signed up for the competition again this year. He was singing at the semi-final. He was on the same stage of last year. But he was confident. His voice was strong. He looked straight at the audience.
His efforts paid off, as he placed first in the semi-finals. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Eun Gyo. “I was just happy for myself because I worked very hard for that moment.”
“The judges highly evaluated him,” said Zijing Qu, one of the organizers of the competition.
“It was so different that people don’t even realize that was the same person,” said Xiaoyu, compared to last year.
Growing up in a competitive society, Eun Gyo lost his confidence. But he said music brought it back to him.
Music is more than the storytelling for him. He said it is part of his life.