Kim Jin Woo


Park Chan Wook’s upcoming new film The Handmaid (Agasshi) has wrapped up production at the end of October. Here are two new stills featuring its leading cast (Kim Min Hee, Ha Jung Woo, Kim Tae Ri and Cho Jin Woong). 

The film is based on Sarah Water’s acclaimed novel Fingersmith, and follows a young girl (newcomer Kim Tae Ri) who, raised as a petty thief, later becomes an accomplice to a con man (Ha Jung Woo) who plans to pose as a gentleman suitor to try and marry a wealthy lady (Kim Min Hee) out of her fortune. 

In the novel, things get complicated when the petty thief and the wealthy lady fall in love with each other. While there is no realease date yet, The Handmaid is likely to bow in South Korean cinemas in the second half of 2016.

[ENG TRANS] Small Company’s rebellion, MAMAMOO’s Label RBW CEO Kim Jin Woo & CEO Kim Do Hoon, “different from SM and YG”

Translation by Lunien & REAL LADY @

“Non-Big 3 company’s rebellion,” “Bootstrapped Girl Group,” are some of the adjectives used to describe 2nd year group MAMAMOO. Along with Twice and GFriend, MAMAMOO are referred to as the representatives of the 3rd generation of girl groups. They may not have doll-like beauty, but their outstanding singing and stage manners got them to 2nd place for the most invited university festival act in 2016, just behind world star PSY.

Mamamoo’s agency RBW began as a small agency with a capital of 100 million Won. In October 2010, Kim Do Hoon (42) and Kim Jin Woo (38) both invested 50 million Won each as co-CEOs. In just 6 years, they have been selected as 2016’s Outstanding Venture of the Year, for their performance in the past 3 years. They have attracted outside investments as well. KTB Networks, Korea Investment Partners, Posco Capital, and NHN Investment are 4 venture capital forms that have collectively invested 7 billion Won into them. That speaks to how robust RBW is.

Looking at their books, compared to other entertainment agencies where sales from artists’ makes up the majority of their income, RBW is a little different. The sales of singers in the company, including Mamamoo, Yangpa, and Basick, make up about 30% of RBW’s income. RBW’s unique artist incubator makes up another 30%. Broadcasts, programs, events, and production make up the remaining 40%.

Co-CEO Kim Jin Woo says, “We cannot succeed by following SM and YG’s path because we are new, so we have to find a different business model.”

◇ CEO Kim Jin Woo, “We chose a different path from SM, YG”

RBW is being a called a rising star among entertainment agencies, just 6 years after being established.

CEO Kim Jin Woo describes RBW’s remarkable growth as such, “We rescue artists that are not being given their agencies’ total attention.” RBW has an “incubating” system for artists from other agencies. Co-CEO Kim Do Hoon recruited 15 top producers including Hwang Sung Jin, Lee Sang Ho, Choi Yong Chan, and Kwon Seok Hong to build this system. Chinese singer Lin, 7SENSE, Japanese band CODE-V, and SHU-I are just some of the signers that have gone through RBW’s incubator system.

“Of course I wanted to produce songs for the artists, but relying solely on our artists is a big risk as an entertainment agency. That’s why we thought of using this business model. We slowly incubate all kinds of artists and build up our know-how.”

The first singers he produced for using this newfound know-how was Mamamoo. The 2 billion Won spent investing in Mamamoo has been recouped in just 1 year and 8 months. CEO Kim Jin Woo says, “When the production money was lacking, we had to move money from other departments to make it up.” He emphasizes, “The reason we could invest so heavily in Mamamoo was because the other departments were active and doing well.”

Outside of their incubator system, RBW also pioneered in many different locations in their music business. In 2012 they produced and broadcasted an audition program called “Galaxy Superstar” in Indonesia. In 2014 they also produced a K-pop audition program alongside Lotte in Vietnam. Recently in Vietnam they produced a Naver V-app concert with their K-pop artists and are setting up an agency there. They have already sent 6 employees to Ho Chi Minh city to establish a corporation.

“Vietnam is a battleground for multinational companies. It is also a country that is very interested in K-pop. Vietnam is 3rd in countries that have Googled "K-pop” around the world. I think having a production and marketing agency here will be very effective.“

The man behind these brilliant moves, CEO Kim Jin Woo, received an entrepreneur commendation from the Minster of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. CEO Kim is the first entrepreneur in the entertainment industry to receive such a commendation.

"It is a great honor from the Ministry. K-pop is a powerful cultural product and I will do my best to promote and sell it worldwide.”

CEO Kim emphasizes that new entertainment agencies need to have a unique model. He believes that agencies that cannot see ahead and only follow what others do is doomed to always be behind the trend.

"I think that entertainment agencies have to be fundamentally different. Whether it is their company’s direction or vision, they have to quickly differentiate themselves from existing agencies.”

◇ Kim Do Hoon “Girl groups produced by hit songwriters all fail? I went back to the basics”

If CEO Kim Jin Woo takes care of expanding the business, CEO Kim Do Hoon is responsible for RBW’s music color and “incubation” of the artists. If CEO Kim Jin Woo were a father, CEO Kim Do Hoon is taking on a mother-like role.

About 15 star producers including Producer Seo Yon bae (the writer of GFriend’s “Me Gustas Tu”) and Producer Hwang Sung Jin (writer of Lee Seung Gi’s “Marry Me”) have small and deep connections with CEO Kim Do Hoon.

MAMAMOO is the output of CEO Kim Do Hoon’s producer know-hows. There are plenty of pretty and talented girl groups, but not many that know how to truly have fun on stage. CEO Kim Do Hoon emphasized, “I searched for two things: vocal talents, and cheerful energy that made others happy.”

“Instead of members who are ‘pretty enough’ and sing well, I envisioned a girl group that highly emphasized vocals and stage performance. MAMAMOO members sing well, but more importantly, they stood out to me for their bright and cheerful energy. They don’t try to put up images for themselves, but simply make people happy. I knew they will be successful, but they settled well into the music industry much quickly than I have expected. It was a case where a producer’s planning, and the artists’ capabilities worked together to create a positive synergy effect.”

Although many hit song writers like Kim Do Hoon have tried producing girl groups in the past, cases of success in a short period of time, like the success of MAMAMOO, is quite rare. CEO Kim Do Hoon shares that his secret is “Going back to the basics.”

“In the past, I have produced teams like Phantom and Geeks, but did not see much success. This made me ponder upon the question of why many song writers fail as producers. I think the issue is that we try to follow the footsteps of successful producers without learning the basics. For example, producers with manager backgrounds, since the time they worked as road managers, become familiar with the process of getting broadcast schedules, recording, and such, thus reducing trial and error. But song writers, after creating a hit song, throw themselves into the producing field under prepared, and ultimately fail.”

Apart from MAMAMOO’s musical success, CEO Kim Do Hoon also has made a name for himself as a star song writer. Last year, Kim Do Hoon received the Gaon Kpop Chart’s“The year’s Best Song Writer’s Award”,  received the The Korea Music Copyright Association’s (KOMCA) grand prize in song writing, and in 2014, recorded No.1 for Korean music copyright income. Kim Do Hoon, a songwriter who can translate the current trends through music, shares: “To better read the hearts of the public, I spend time having heart-to-heart discussions with the junior musicians, and work with them.”  

“As I get older, my techniques may advance, but I have difficulty reading the hearts of the public. As I work with my juniors, I try to observe what the younger generation are interested in and passionate about. Last February, all four members of MAMAMOO participated in the producing of their album, and instead of pushing my own views on them, I tried to respect their ideas and made decisions together. Recently, I have been carefully looking at creative music videos and clever song lyrics. For example, fun and lively lyrics of 10cm’s  “What the Spring??” and the sensationally honest lyrics of Black Nut have left great impressions on me.”

In addition to MAMAMOO, RBW is home to top vocalist Yangpa, Monday Kids’ Lee Jin Sung, and Mnet program ‘Show Me the Money’ winner Basick. Also, a 4-membered male rookie vocal group, Vromance, is preparing for a debut coming soon.

“If SM makes fantasies come true and YG sets the hip hop and club culture of Korea, RBW is a company of vocalists. Our strength is our strong vocalists who are also great live performers. There is a saying that an agency that produces two great singers is successful, but thanks to all our company artists doing well, our company is growing at a fast pace.”

◇ 20 years of friendship… shines in business partnership

The friendship of CEO Kim Jin Woo and CEO Kim Do Hoon dates back twenty years. In 1997, Kim Jin Woo, who was a Russian language major student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, was also a solo singer. Paying a security deposit of ₩5,000,000 and monthly payments of ₩30,000 for an underground workroom in Cheondam-dong, he dreamed of becoming a successful musician, working together with music student Kim Do Hoon and now famous song writer, Hwang Sung Jin.  

However, after trying everything an artist can do in the music industry: singing, song writing, producing, and even singing chorus, Kim Jin Woo realized that his calling was actually managing a business in the music industry. And so in 2004, with a capital of ₩17,500,000 he opened up a small recording studio in Sadang-dong.

After grossing ₩500,000,000 in just three years, CEO Kim Jin Woo founded a music academy (training school), and continued to achieve his dreams as a businessman.

Songwriter Kim Do Hoon shared that when he saw the business portfolio of CEO Kim Jin Woo, he thought at once “This is it. This will work.” CEO Kim Jin Woo laughs and adds “I persuaded him (to work with me).” Continuing their long friendship of twenty years, the two are actively working together as an amazing duo in the Korean music industry.

Translation by Lunien & REAL LADY @
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