Some Kings Come Without A Crown

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My Crown is in my heart, not on my head. ~ Shakespeare

On December 20, 2015, the sweet and mellifluous sounds of the gentle Bungeuppang returned to the King of Masked Singer stage. Although he did not advance to get the opportunity to de-crown the reigning king, he nevertheless left an indelible impression on both the audience and judges by quietly laying claim to a new kingdom he forged in their hearts with his passionate and heartfelt renditions of 광화문 연가 [Gwanghwamun Sonata] and 너를 위해 [For You].

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After edging out M.I.B’s Kangnam to advance to the second round, MBLAQ’s main vocal, took the stage once again and faced ballad singer, Lee Soo Young. As the vocalists are able to perform songs of their choosing, it was no surprise G.O dug deep into his retro ballad vault and chose composer Lee Young Hoon’s 광화문 연가 [Gwanghwamun Sonata].

OMG. Ok, so I admit that I was upset when I learned that G.O was eliminated and would not advance to the final round and I did not immediately watch his performance. I was in denial stage. I refused to believe that there was a voice that could best his. But in retrospect, I am actually happy I waited because I needed the extra time and space to drink in the glory of the performance without harboring thoughts of conspiracy theories and annoyed disbelief that my bias did not advance to the finals. But, with 광화문 연가, he did beat Soo Young and advanced to the third round before he was ultimately eliminated, and it was breathtaking.

He was flawless. If you listen to what I am about to share and not feel anything… better check your pulse. I have heard G.O sing many a fine ballad and have been touched and deeply moved each time with the way he interprets the story of a song. Sometimes I think G.O approaches a ballad with such reverence and respect that he simply surrenders himself to it and allows the song itself to elevate his performance. Perhaps a song has cognizance and is aware when an exquisite voice is about to sing it. Or perhaps G.O is simply a magnificent vocalist.

I don’t think I exaggerated, do you?^^ Even the judges were awed.

Tender Bungeuppang advanced to the third round. His next battle would be against Lee Ji Hoon, a singer/actor with a pretty extensive musical theater background. But my bias has some musical theater experience too, you know…and won an award for his efforts on that musical stage. Both G.O and Ji Hoon chose songs from rock musicians. G.O traveled back a little further in time (dear lord how I LOVE this man’s retro soul) and chose Im Jae Bum’s 너를 위해 [For You]. This song is no stranger to G.O. In fact, he sang it on an August 2011 episode of Strong Heart.

I think you will agree that time, experience, and life have enhanced G.O’s talent a hundred fold. To me, he has always sung heartfelt, sad and deeply emotional songs as if he has lived every lyric. It is true that the ups and downs of life, the struggles, the setbacks, the losses and self doubts certainly can ingrain themselves into the human psyche and for an artist, become the ammunition that feeds the fire and passion of their art. If they absorb it the way G.O seems to have, it translates into powerful and at times, explosive interpretations.


He did not beat Lee Ji Hoon to advance to the final round, but his 너를 위해 [For You] was dazzling nonetheless. When you listen to G.O sing these songs, you know they mean something to him. There are moments when I truly feel as if the songs he chooses to sing (even the ones he has composed) are all telling us a part of his story, his life, and his experiences.

Simply poetic and beautiful.

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Once eliminated, the vocalist must reveal him/herself to the judges and audience. The judges and the audience were visibly shocked to see that under the sweet Bungeoppang mask was MBLAQ’s charming and humble main vocal, G.O. It was a moment I think G.O truly enjoyed, even if he did not advance to the next round.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaah…he is so precious!

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He mentioned in the post-elimination interview how he questioned his identity following the departure of Lee Joon and Cheondung from MBLAQ and wondered why he was still singing. Inasmuch as he said he is now okay, it is clear that he struggled with the change in the dynamic of the group but that participating in Masked Singer renewed his interest and focus. It was exactly the tonic he needed to help give him guidance and strength to rekindle that fire that may have simply been smoldering this past year, but certainly was not extinguished.

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I believe in this young man so very much and I have complete faith that some really great things will be coming our way from him and from MBLAQ. I am extraordinarily proud of him for participating in King of Masked Singer. He once again was given the opportunity to do what he does best: express himself through music and touch so many hearts along the way.

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[Video cr.: MBC and KWeili]


  1. Nan says:

    Whenever I hear how difficult a time he had during the break up of MBLAQ… it makes me cry.
    Even the first time I saw this video my heart broke for him and I didn’t even know what was happening to him at the time. But you can obviously tell now that the trouble within the group was weighing heavily on him at the time.
    Honestly, it makes me feel a bit angry towards the 2 who left.
    How can you not love this tender hearted guy? Well you know, I’m seriously G.O. biased when it comes to MBLAQ. And honestly, all you’ve done is feed that bias Michele. Over and over again… thanks for being the “supplier” for my G.O. addiction (news).
    How are you doing lately? Any plans to see our dear G.O. in the near future?

    • Michele says:

      Hi Nan, Happy New Year!
      It is indeed G.O’s tender, gentle heart that has roped me in good. Hopefully through the little I do here, I am letting readers know that there is so much more to him than what they see (or even hear). And that in addition to his mighty talent, underneath it all he is the most endearing and tender-hearted soul you will probably ever meet.
      Things were far more difficult than any one of us probably imagined.I think over time, once everything (and everyone) is healed, he (and the rest of the group, including Lee Joon and Cheondung) will talk openly about it all.
      Sometimes I get the feeling that part of G.O’s struggle with everything that happened at the end of 2014 included the fact that he could not tell us the hows and the whys and as such, retreated and suffered so much as a result. Devastated on a number of levels perhaps.
      Still, he remains strong and resilient – something I don’t think he is even aware of about himself sometimes. ^^
      I am happy to be the supplier that feeds your G.O bias! I want the entire world to experience the magic he shares with his amazing talent. I will continue to do all that I can for him in my small way and watch his star shine brighter and brighter each day.
      I am well. As for plans to see him, I await his summons – at which time I will promptly board a plane to cross the ocean once again to see him.Whenever….wherever, I will be there for him.
      I hope you and yours are all doing well.

  2. Cloud USA says:

    A great article. G.O is SO talented that I am positive he will find his way through just fine. I have much faith in him.

    You’re right that participating in this show was an awesomely smart thing for him to do, not just because it “renewed his interest and focus” in his musical career, but also because for so long much of his identity was as part of a group, rather than as a solo artist. Yes, he was the lead singer of that group, but let’s face it. In a group, you just don’t get the chance to let your vocals shine like you do as a solo artist. It’s totally different being in your own spotlight, which I’ve always said G.O needs to be. On his own, doing his on great music, particularly ballads. My God, the man’s got pipes, and someone somewhere needs to get him out there so he can use them properly.

    The surprise on the judges’ faces was genuine and honestly not surprising. They were also really fun to watch. LOL. I really don’t think they knew what he could do with that angelic voice of his like we do. Maybe his stellar performances on this show will make people in the industry (and in the wider TV audience) take more note of G.O and the awesomeness he is capable of. ♥
    Thank you for sharing this. It was delightful.

    Terri :-}

    • Michele says:

      Hi Terri~ Happy New Year!
      Oh my…thank you for this. You know, there are days when I wish I never met him because the agony of watching him not get the opportunity (the full opportunity) to have his star explode in the manner it should breaks my heart.
      On the other hand, (at least in my experience) he is the most kind and tenderhearted being I think I have ever met. Crossing paths with him and falling into his lair has definitely been one of the greatest things to have happen to me in this, the backend of my life.
      I have not know him for long (and am still learning about him) but one thing I can say is that he has an incredible sense of brotherhood and loyalty. Family seems to be extremely important to him and he viewed/views the other members of MBLAQ as his family. Heck, I even sometimes think he views the fans as family. He is so at ease and comfortable around them – this will always amaze me.
      To have already gone through a devastating break up with Tykeys, frankly, I am surprised he did not break entirely after Joon and CD departed and walk away completely.
      What I absolutely ADORE about him is that he makes no apologies, does not mince words or hide when it comes to how he feels. His liner notes in the Mirror CD are case in point. A couple of sentences spelled it out all quite plainly: I was not in good mental health, I have lived foolishly as a result, I haven’t talked to all of you much and for that I am sorry. I will do better.
      Inasmuch as it was completely heartbreaking to hear him say he struggled with confidence, identity, that he had a difficult time and has been through a lot – that he questioned why he was singing, he was brutally HONEST. I think it takes a lot of courage to open up that way, publicly – on television no less. G.O’s vulnerability makes him connect with so much I think…lyrics, melody…people. This has been the cornerstone of his hold on me (after he woo-ed me with his voice…heheheh).
      I know he is well-respected in the industry and I simply wish he was given more opportunity. I don’t know if this is a JTC thing or if he is simply still in the healing process and rebuilding his confidence. It is unimaginable that a man with his talent would have confidence that waivers at all. But we all are our worst critics. We all have our persuasive and irrational inner voices and demons sometimes. I now understand why he passed on musicals in 2015. He mentioned way back in a Staraz Magazine article that after Curtain Call he was offered many roles – and big ones, but he had to decline because he simply was not in the right frame of mind to participate.
      I think it was HUGE for him to get out on the Masked Singer stage and as one of the judges said, it took a lot of courage for him to do it. One of them also said that it is pretty clear his confidence has returned because in his estimation a singer could not choose to sing Lim Jae Bum’s For You unless he has confidence.
      The other thing that is so special about G.O when he does decide to do these types of shows (Immortal Song 2, etc.), I think, is that he seems to choose songs that mean something to him. One of the judges on Masked Singer clearly said to him, ‘the song you chose (For You) is not a smart choice to get a lot of votes.’ It made me believe in my heart of all hearts that for G.O stepping out on that stage had nothing to do about competition and everything to do about healing his soul. I adore him.
      Thank you Terri again for your very ON POINT thoughts!!!^^ I hope you and yours are all doing well.~ ♥

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