It seems that there is no such thing as success that simply and suddenly lands on your lap. As a third party, one can one day see that a person is sucessful, but for the person who has achieved something, that success required a heavy investment of hard work, preparation, and long seasons of failure and pain. Many may not know Hyuk Shin, who is now just 30 years old, but Shin has composed music for popular artists in the U.S. and South Korea, including Justin Bieber, EXO, Shinee, and Girls' Generation.
In 2009 -- when Shin was a fourth-year student at Berklee College of Music -- Shin, took the world by a storm with 'One Less Lonely Girl,' the first song that Shin released to the world which became a part of Justin Bieber's debut album, 'My World.' The song immediately rose to number 16 on the Billboard charts, while the album rose up to number 1. Shin's name is also found often in the K-Pop realm, as he also wrote the music for 'Into Your World (Angel)' for EXO, which reached number 1 in China's music charts, and 'Growl,' by EXO, which also reached number 1 for the Billboard's world music charts. In 2011, Joombas Music Group, which was founded by Shin himself, started offices in Hollywood and Seoul, and became one of the better known start-up music companies for composing, producing, and recruiting.
Having said all that, it would be safe to say that Shin can be considered as 'sucessful.' He achieved success even before he graduated college, and is still finding success even now. But when saying such things in front of him, a noticeable discomfort passes his expression. "Oh... thank you. To be honest, I can't take the credit for it..." he would say. Rather than 'success,' he finds more comfort in the words, 'plan,' and 'calling.' Shin, who had no experience, no connections, nor any money, attributes his ability to enter the mainstream music marketplace to God.
"I can only see it all as the result of God's thorough preparations and plans," he said.
In the eighth grade, a club called 'Computer Music' was formed at Shin's middle school. Shin, who always loved music, joined the club without hesitation and his eyes were opened to the world of music. He started dreaming that his songs would reach the billboard charts. By the time he reached his junior year in high school, he had written 50 original songs. But his first job was that of a singer. His good looks, along with his strong voice gave rise to hopes for success. But his first album, 'Soar,' didn't receive much interest from the crowd. At 19 years old, this was the first moment of failure that Shin had experienced.
"It was difficult at the time, but it was an opportunity for me to realize that being a singer wasn't the right path for me," he reflected. "If I had succeeded at that time, the current me wouldn't be here today."
Shin decided he couldn't simply wallow in the disappointment of failure. He went on to move to Boston to study and write music at Berklee College of Music. Awaiting him were language barriers, loneliness, and an uncertain future. While he was often acknowledged as a skillful musician in Korea, he found that he was simply average in comparison to his peers at Berklee.
"That was difficult as well, but it was a much needed season. It was through those times I spent alone that I was able to overcome my struggles through music," Shin recalled. "The prayers of my mother and my family were particularly encouraging and helped me a lot during that time."
But the tunnel he was in was a long one. During afternoons he would study, while at nights he would make music, and during the weekends he would take the bus to New York to pass out samples of his music to various people. By the time he finished four years of college, he was close to throwing in the towel and moving back to Korea, he said. But as long as Shin wasn't giving up, it seemed God's faithful plan was continuing to unfold. The song that Shin wasn't necessarily proud of, but 'thought was just alright,' turned out to be the song that landed on Justin Bieber's debut album, causing Shin to become a star overnight.
"My vague dreams as a middle schooler came true in one moment," Shin said. "I earned so much more money than I expected as well. It was then that I realized that God had been preparing everything, and leading me precisely where I needed to be. It's not something that I did so I have no choice but to just be thankful."
It was the moment of success that God had given him after the failure he experienced as a singer, and the four years of lonely study and hard work in a foreign land with no fame. It would've been nice if the success simply carried on from there, but God's thoughts were, again, different. The production company that he started got involved in a conflict with another company during a contracting process, and Shin's company was reduced to no more than just a name. All of the money they were able to earn had also disappeared, little by little.
During this crisis, God opened an unexpected door: K-Pop. Mainstream Korean music producers reached out to Shin first, expressing interest. Following his father's advice to "go around when the rain falls," Shin turned his direction to K-Pop, where a new opportunity awaited him. Shin's focus, which was once only on the American market, was expanded to that in South Korea as well. Joombas Music Group's offices expanded to another one in Seoul, and is currently expanding their activities to stages all over the world.
"If things kept working out [in America], I might've only known just one thing," Shin said. "But God has been working, and I've just been giving my best."
Joombas Music Group now is involved in composing, producing, and recruiting new singers into the field. Many are interested in recruiting new Korean singers and sending them into the American market. Such work involves cultivating and investing in people. Through this, Shin, whose life as a musician began with God's plan, is now working towards his calling.
"I don't tell people to listen to me, or just follow my style, just because I'm the director or the CEO. You can't build or cultivate people with intimidation; you have to do it with love. I'm just doing the work of giving them their necessities to help their own dreams and world unfold. There are people in our company who aren't Christians, but they start becoming more interested in the faith and in going to church after they see us and our faith. Even this, along with music, is a calling that God has given me. God doesn't want me to do something big -- he wants me to be a fisher of men, a witness for the gospel, with the talents that he has given me."
This article was translated by Rachael Lee. For the original in Korean, visit kr.christianitydaily.com.