By Han Sang-hee
Autumn is considered ``men's season'' here, with the cool fall breeze blowing jackets open and solitude flowing in the air. But this year, the local pop scene will be crowded with both male and female singers. Singers like Jo Sung-mo, Wheesung, Kim Jong-kook and Rain have returned to the pop scene, while Lee Hyo-ri, Lee Soo-young and Baek Ji-young are also following closely behind.
Soulful crooners Jo Sung-mo and Kim Jong-kook have both returned after completing their military service, but they chose to meet fans through different channels.
Jo, who made it big back in the late 1990s with his delicate voice and sweet ballads, has been busy performing around the nation as part of his Korea-Japan tour ``Cry Out.'' He will finish the Korean leg of his tour before carrying on in Japan until the end of the year. Jo, who already sang on original soundtracks for dramas including ``Lovers in Paris,'' recently sang for ``The Painter of Wind.'' His new album will be out early next year.
Kim, on the other hand, has been seen in hit television programs including SBS' ``The Family is Out!'' Instead of focusing on music, he has joined the ranks of singers appearing on various entertainment programs. He recently released the album ``Here I Am'' and will soon return to the stage with original music.
Singer and actor Rain has also joined the trend by appearing on almost every top entertainment show on television. The so-called ``world star'' has a new album, ``Rainism,'' and an upcoming Hollywood movie under his belt, which will keep him busy even as the year comes to an end.
Wheesung also jumped into the pop scene with his new album ``With All My Heart and Soul'' and through his concert ``Whee Show,'' which was a big success with more than 3,500 fans present to cheer him on and celebrate his return.
Meanwhile, female singers are also returning to the stage to offer fans their distinctive personalities during the windy season.
Lee Hyo-ri will hold her first solo concert next month. News of the concert stirred the nation, with businesses offering to buy all the tickets. Her agency, Mnet, announced that it sold out in just five minutes. Lee, famous for her sexy image and down-to-earth personality, also broadened her boundaries by hosting television programs, coming closer to fans who thought she was only a glamorous singer who could dance.
Lee Soo-young and Baek Ji-young are also returning to the pop scene. Lee already offered a new ballad titled ``How Can Love be That Way'' and will release a new album ``Once'' Thursday (the first in over a year) once again bringing her soulful music to warm up the chilly weather.
Baek, 32, will also grace the stage with her seventh album this week. Baek went through a difficult time with vocal cord problems leading to surgery. Despite doubts and worries that she will not be able to sing as before, she is planning to release a dance number that will prove that she is not only back, but better.
Baek made her debut in 1999 and gained popularity as a sexy dance singer. She shifted to ballads in 2006 and hit it big with her husky and sultry voice matching the sad yet powerful songs well. Lee, on the other hand, started off as a ballad singer with a distinctive voice. Making her debut the same year, she grabbed attention with her emotional songs and fun and outgoing personality.