Original soundtrack composers Kang Mimi, Lee Aram, and Lee Ruri have an extensive list of K-dramas and films under their belts such as My Mister, Call Me Mother, I’m Not A Robot, She Was Pretty, The Battleship Island, and Let’s Fight Ghost, to name a few. Scroll down to hear why they decided to become K-drama and film composers, how K-drama OSTs are made, what’s it like meeting the actors IRL, and who their favorite Korean actor is!

Mimi, Aram, and Ruri first met as students wanting to compose K-drama and film soundtracks. Ruri recalls she wanted to make film music when she first realized how film music can touch lives. “I started dreaming of becoming a film and drama composer in ninth grade. I watched composer Lee Byung Woo's 'A Tale of Two Sisters' with friends at a theater. Close to the end of film, the protagonist, played by Im Soo Jung, runs out and the music played in that scene was so impressive that it stayed with me,” Ruri said. Aram had a similar story. “When I first started film composing, I really liked Spanish film composer Alberto Iglesias, who inspired me to travel to Spain. so I went and watched flamenco,” she shared.

Original soundtracks are a totally different musical genre from pop or any other performances. “The music that we make is not a main character, but a supporting character. Regardless, it's an indispensable component of film,” Ruri explains, adding that music helps people focus on the film.

So how does one create film scores? Mimi, who’s worked mostly on film music as opposed to K-drama soundtracks, lays it out for us. “In my team, we watch the film or read the scenario first to understand the film's vibe,” Mimi explains. “Then the music director gives us a theme,” which can only have two to three sounds or chord progressions. The composers then “sketch the music based on the theme, which means we create freely using the given theme and vibe, for instance, lyrically, romantically, or comically,” Mimi says. These different variations within the theme are used in different parts of the film to evoke specific emotions.

Ruri says her K-drama soundtrack team creates 80% of the music in advance, giving themselves enough time to cut and arrange the pre-made music accordingly for each episode.

When asked about creating music for specific characters, Mimi shared this insight: “Music can help set up a character in unexpected ways and move people, even subconsciously, which helps create a character through music.”

Mimi helped produce music for 'Be With You' starring So Ji Sub, Son Ye Jin, and Park Seo Joon, 'Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds’ starring Ha Jung Woo, and a few other movies.

Aram worked on a film called ‘Negotiation,’ starring Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin, which premieres soon. She’s currently working on tvN's Lawless Lawyer, which stars Lee Joon Ki and is scheduled to air in May.

Ruri worked on Call Me Mother and is currently working on My Mister starring IU. “When I worked on ‘Call Me Mother’s’ soundtrack, depending which mother or which character's emotions we were portraying, the songs had to be different bit by bit,” Ruri recalls. “Most characters are women. Our main concern was how to distinguish the subtle differences in these women and show that in music.”

Ruri gave us helpful pointers on enjoying this drama even more. “The soundtrack isn't in your face. Rather we've effectively placed it at the right places, which was our concept. We didn't put a lot of music, but where we placed it, it was absolutely necessary, which might make the music stand out a bit more. It's calm and simple,” She explained, adding that she hopes the OST will help you get into ‘My Mister.’

The K-drama OST composers don’t work on the filming set, which means they don’t get to see the actors a lot, except at the afterparties, where they can leave a big impression. Mimi favors Ha Jung Woo of 'Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds’ and Ruri's favorite was Yoo Seung Ho of I’m Not A Robot. Ruri says she was blown away by Seung Ho’s kindness when she saw him in person at the ‘I’m Not A Robot’ afterparty.

Speaking of afterparties, Aram says it’s “common to see the actors cry, because they haven't gotten out of their roles yet. It's a pretty sight. The actors probably have a harder time than us, because they've lived as their characters for months at a time. It's interesting to see those things at the party.”

Mimi, Aram, and Ruri hope this interview would help you enjoy K-dramas even more, as you got to know about those who work behind the cameras. Ruri says, “If you would remember for just once that there are people working behind the scenes, and think of us while enjoying the dramas, it would cheer us up and make us proud film and K-drama composers. Fighting!”

You can read the full excerpts from this interview on whatakdrama here.

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Image 1 courtesy of Aram Lee, 2 courtesy of Ruri Lee.


My Mister

Starring Lee Sun Gyun and Lee Ji Eun (IU)

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