Recently, I met two young Korean guys in a hostel. When I told them I liked Infinite, they nodded passively, but a beer or two later, one leaned over and confessed to me – ‘Actually, I do like the leader’s voice. Kim Sung Kyu. You know, he looks pretty ordinary, but has what we Koreans call a honey throat. His voice is so rich.’

Anyone who’s witnessed the live performances of Kim Sung Kyu (also often styled as Kim Sunggyu) would second the idea of him having a honey throat; and I’d beg to differ on his ordinary looks, which are especially popular in Europe according to numerous interviews with the guys.

Sung Kyu returned to the charts this week with his second solo album, 27. His first was in 2012, Another Me. 27’s first release Kontrol is epic is sound and vocals; it’s a soaring track that begs to be replayed. There’s soul in Sung Kyu’s singing, evident from his early audition tapes, his past history in a school rock band, his numerous performances on Immortal Song, and the way he often mouths along to the lines that aren’t even his on stage.

These solo album releases aren’t just a chance for his singing to shine – though undoubtably it does – but also during the promotional rounds, Inspirits get to see a different side to Infinite’s leader. When with the others, he often winds up being the butt of jokes on Korean variety shows, once being nicknamed Salamander Gyu for his lacklustre efforts in BTD’s scorpion dance (though of course he never fails to deliver it live on stage.) His small eyes also get a lot of ribbing, but the power of them is no joke, as he can seemingly control other members into kneeling, or sitting up straight without even saying a word. He has a lot on his hands dealing with those six kids.

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However, when he’s flying solo on TV shows, he’s less jokey, more heartfelt, and it’s then we get to see the real Kim Sung Kyu. When featuring on High Society he revealed more about his pre-debut days, from growing up in relative poverty, to leaving home for Seoul to chase his dreams. It’s not an uncommon story, sure, but it makes you feel that singing is what he was born to do, and yet he’s always going to be humble about his success. He’s only 27, but with a humble heart and honey throat, he’s definitely destined for even more success.

Kontrol – the comeback track

The Answer – another track from 27

60 Seconds – his debut solo MV features Infinite bandmate L

I Need You – moody in black and white

Bonus: Sung Kyu singing in English, Bieber’s Beauty and a Beat

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About Author

British writer and editor living in Japan. Currently studying Japanese, Korean, K-pop dance, and the fine form of 이성종's legs.