Artist of the week – Brown Eyes


Na Ul (Yoo Na-ul) / Vocal
1978.9.23 / 175cm / 65kg / Blood type: A
Hobby: collecting Afro musician CDs
Talent: art
Favorite food: beef dishes
Favorite artists: Stevie Wonder, Marc Dorsey, Monifah, L.T.D
Also member of the group Brown Eyed Soul
Solo debut: 1st album “Back to the Soul Flight”, 2005
Currently runs an Internet shopping mall

Yoon Gun / Vocal
1977.1.1 / 180cm / 68kg / Blood type: B
Real name: Yang Chang-ik
Hobby: computer games
Talent: piano
Debut album: 4 member vocal group TEAM’s 1st album “Teamplay” in 1999
Solo debut: 1st album in 2003
Favorite food: sushi rolls, sautéed kimchi
Favorite musician: Baby Face, R. Kelly


Our featured artist this week is the now defunct R&B duo Brown Eyes. Their members were Yoon Gun and Naul, both very successful solo artists (Naul also in the group Brown Eyed Soul) today.

Brown Eyes debuted in 2001 as a faceless group, a concept that was very popular at the time. Their goal was to impress the audience with their music instead of their looks. In fact, Brown Eyes never appeared on any major gayo shows during their existence. But they were aided by mega production music videos. None of the MVs were bigger (nor had more impact) than their debut song "Already One Year" (Watch it here). The music video of this song starred Chinese actor Jang Jin and Korean actress Kim Hyun Joo. It was about the life of a boxer. Famous MV director Cha Eun Tak directed this clip. This MV was played over and over again in medias of various Asia countries. This song and this video has become a classic hit. In fact, a lot of people outside of Korea got interested in k-pop because of this song and this MV. "Already One Year" spent many many weeks in the top 10 and was popular for nearly half a year in 2001.

Using the same formula, their follow up hit "With Coffee" also had an exciting MV, starring actress Shim Min Ah (watch it here). "With Coffee" also landed in the top 10. At 2001 year end music award ceremonies, TV stations wanted to present Brown Eyes "best new artist award". But true to their word, the duo did not want to appear in public and thus did not accept the awards.

Brown Eyes came back at the end of 2002 with their 2nd album "Reason 4 Breathing", and sadly, that was also their last album. The title song "Little by Little" also made a record – it reached No. 1 on MBC's Music Camp without the artist come out to perform. TV stations are usually reluctant to handed out No. 1 song to artist who did not perform on their show. That was a first. This song's MV was also a continuation of the story from "Already One Year" (watch it here). Again, it received mass acceptance. By this time, photos of members Yoon Gun and Naul has "leaked" out, but still no one had seen them in public.

Both Brown Eyes albums sold well over 500,000 copies. Their album sales were still strong well after their hit songs. Their songs were also covered by different Chinese artists. Their style of mid-tempo R&B music were very listener friendly, that was one of the reasons that their albums were selling so well.

Fans were expecting Brown Eyes to produce many more hits. However, the duo broke up in 2003. Rumors had that they had contractual disputes with their record company. Yoon Gun became a solo artist and Naul formed a "spin-off" group Brown Eyed Soul. Naul later also released his own solo album, and was featured in other hip-hop artists' songs.

Even though Brown Eyes disbanded in 2003, it was not the end but only the beginning of many similar groups being formed. Directly related to this "brand name" are Brown Eyed Soul, and Brown Eyed Girls (BEG) – a 4-member girl group whom the record company recruited after Brown Eyes broke up. BEG were in training for 3 years before debuting in 2006.

When SG Wannabe debuted, some people labelled them as the new Brown Eyes because of their similar styles. Today, many R&B groups are formed singing mid-tempo ballads (Monday Kiz, V.O.S., M to M, See Ya, Gavy NJ, etc. to name a few that were more successful). Their styles are not exactly the same as Brown Eyes, but many of them got the inspirations from Brown Eyes.

Brown Eyes only existed for two years, but in a short period of time, they were able to produce a memorable hit song and MV in "Already One Year". More importantly, they revolutionalized today's mid-tempo Korean R&B songs. Their legacy is undoubted.


Brown Eyes First Album (2001) : Already One Year, With Coffee, White Butterfly

Reason 4 Breathing? (2nd album, 2002) : Little by Little, For You, I Wanna Fall in Love with You, Don’t Leave Me

The Very Best of Brown Eyes: Take a Favorite (Best Hits Album, 2007) : This song, various hits from Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

credits: edward1849, KBS World