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Koreans flock in to buy Chopin Piano Competition winner’s album

November 6, 2015
Music fans wait in line to buy pianist Cho Seong-jin's Chopin Concours album at Pung Wol Dang in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday. (Yonhap)

Music fans wait in line to buy pianist Cho Seong-jin’s Chopin Concours album at Pung Wol Dang in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday. (Yonhap)

Gangnam District in Seoul saw a peculiar sight Friday morning as more than 100 people lined up outside the doors of a small classical music record store.

Eager music lovers had gathered to purchase the live recording of 21-year-old pianist Cho Seong-jin, who became the first Korean to win the grand prize at the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition last month.

The album saw a worldwide release Friday, with the store — Pung Wol Dang — being the first to offer it for sale.

Its doors usually opens at noon, but it started business at 9 a.m. Friday to accommodate popular demand.

Choi Jae-hyuk, a student and classical music fan, was first in line.

“I could have ordered it and had it delivered via the Internet, but coming here in person is different and feels more meaningful,” he said. “As the first person in the world to buy this album, I felt a strange thrill when I opened it.”

“How great is it that a young Korean has become the world’s king of music?” said Cho Chi-hwan, 75, who traveled by subway from Ilsan. “I felt like buying an album here was my way of giving support, which would help other talented people emerge.”

The album saw a successful debut on domestic music charts, surpassing even big-name K-pop records.

Distributor Universal Music has printed 50,000 copies — about 20 times the amount of a typical classical record in South Korea — and anticipates selling about 100,000 copies by the first half of next year.

“I’ve never seen people lining up to buy classical music,” a Universal Music source told Yonhap. “I’m so amazed and so happy.”

“I hope this becomes a starting point for young people to begin listening to classical music,” the source said.

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