Captivated by the sounds of Korean traditional music
Hilary Finchum-Sung became the first non-Korean professor to join the Faculty of Korean Music Department at Seoul National University in 2009. She had never had any prior experience of Korean culture before her chance encounter with Korean traditional music, specifically shaman music, in her college years. She instantly fell in love with the earthy sound and realized that she made a false assumption that Korean traditional music would sound similar to Chinese or Japanese traditional music. It was thanks to the recommendation made by her advisor that broke her preconceived notion and made her delve further into Korean traditional music.
Producing the sounds of nature using traditional Korean musical instruments
Hilary Finchum-Sung describes the sounds produced by traditional Korean musical instruments as having human characteristics. She had played the violin when she was young, and now she is exploring the art of "haegeum" as a way to truly become a master of Korean traditional music and a better teacher. It's already been 5 years since she started and she can play as well as an amateur haegeum player. She has even put on performances with other musicians to help the laymen become more familiar with Korean traditional music.
Dedication to popularize Korean traditional music
What she finds unfortunate though is that Koreans are ignoring or unfamiliar with the beauty of Korean traditional music, and she believes this is due to the lack of Korean music education in schools. So, she is conducing research to discover the ways to incorporate Korean traditional music into the public education system. With a conviction that Koreans need to study and become familiar with traditional music in early childhood, she visits elementary schools nearby and sits in during the traditional music classes to observe and think of the ways in which she could contribute to the development of the education program.