Isang Yun Competition

The ISANGYUN Competition is an international music competition, held annually in Tongyeong, South Korea. It commemorates Isang Yun (1917–1995), a Korean composer who was born in Tongyeong and later settled in Germany. The competition was established in 2003 as the Gyeongnam International Music Competition, and renamed to ISANGYUN Competition in 2008.[1] It consists of a three-year "cycle", where each year, or "edition", consists of a different instrument in the rotation: cello, piano, and violin.

Isang Yun Competition
GenreClassical music
Location(s)Tongyeong, South Korea
Years active2003–present
WebsiteOfficial website


The competition has been organized by local governments and media companies in South Korea: Gyeongnam Province, the City of Tongyeong and MBC Gyeongnam. To remember Isang Yun, in 2003, the Governor of Gyeongnam Province requested the Tongyeong International Music Festival (통영국제음악제) Foundation to plan and organize an international competition. The foundation, initially chaired by Seong-Yawng Park, created a general prospectus of an annual instrumental competition to nurture international young players between 15 and 29 years old. The event would be held in the city where Yun was born, which was Tongyeong, and the competition dates would be scheduled to include November 3, the date of Yun's death in 1995. However, there were exceptions in the schedule for the years 2003, 2004, and 2009.[why?]

The first Gyeongnam International Music Competition was held in 2003. The organizers originally wanted different instrument disciplines. The first discipline selected was cello, since Yun was a famed cellist, and he had composed his first concerto for cello in 1975–76. The organizers then selected violin and piano, because those were the top two disciplines to present the highest quantity of international competitions, and because Yun wrote many works involving those two instruments. They also found that after one cycle of three editions, the winners had an opportunity to collaborate and play in piano trios.

In order to attract an international audience, the organizers wanted the Gyeongnam International Music Competition to be recognized by the World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC). In accordance with WFIMC statutes, the event had to show two editions of success, which it did in 2003 and 2004. The next year, the foundation submitted an application to the WFIMC. In 2006, following a vote held by the federation's general assembly in Geneva, the WFIMC accepted the Gyeongnam International Music Competition as a member competition, which made it the first music competition in South Korea to receive such an honor.[2]

The organizers originally wanted to name the event after Isang Yun, however, the Yun family would not permit it; they were not convinced that the event was sustainable or comparable to other international competitions. The organizers continued to persuade the family, and after demonstrating the event's success, the Yun family eventually consented.[3] The name change was ratified in 2008 by the WFIMC's general assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia.[4] The WFIMC also stipulated that the name "Isang Yun" be titled in all capital letters.[citation needed]


As of 2011, the competition has completed nine editions and three cycles, rotating among disciplines of cello, violin and piano. The 2012 competition will begin the fourth cycle and tenth edition.

All competitions have been held at the Main Hall of the Tongyeong Arts Center.

Year Date Discipline Notes
2003 November 22–29 Cello
2004 November 13–20 Violin
2005 October 29 – November 5 Piano Isang Yun Special Prize was added to list of awards.
2006 October 28 – November 4 Cello For the first time of Korean competition history, the Competition was approved of full membership by WFIMC.
2007 October 28 – November 4 Violin Seong-Yawng Park Special Prize was added to list of awards.
2008 November 2–9 Piano Competition title was officially changed to 'ISANGYUN Competition'.
2009 November 15–22 Cello
2010 October 31 – November 7 Piano Piano now comes after Cello in the rotation.
2011 October 30 – November 6 Violin It was the last competition to feature 5th Prize Winner.
2012 October 27 – November 4 Cello The number of finalists were reduced from five to four,
while currency of cash prizes was changed from US Dollars to Korean Won.
2013 November 2–10[5] Piano For the first time of competition history, the top 2 male prize winners was approved of duty exemption for military services by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
2014 November 1–9 Violin It was the first edition presented at the 'Tongyeong Concert Hall'; a newly constructed concert hall for classical music in Tongyeong. The number of prize winners were reduced from four to three.
2015 Cello
2016 Piano
2017 October 28 – November 5 Violin


Preliminary StageEdit

As part of the WFIMC statutes, the competition is available to all nationalities.

Months before the event, there is a preliminary stage where the applicants submit a written application, and audio/video material showing his or her performance of a piece from a selected list of artists. A preliminary jury, one of which is a South Korea representative from the regular jury, reviews the applications, and selects "approximately 25 or more" people to participate in the event. The participants then submit their repertoires by mid-September.

First StageEdit

The first stage lasts two days. The participant plays three pieces with the following constraints:

  • One piece is from a selection of works from a list of artists.
  • One piece is from a selection of works from Isang Yun.
  • One piece is of the performer's choice.
  • The total duration of the performances has a time limit.
  • The pieces cannot be from the preliminary stage.

A day is placed between the first and second stage. Competitors are notified on whether they advance in the competition.

Second StageEdit

The second stage lasts two days. The participant plays three pieces with the following constraints:

  • One piece is a complete sonata from a selection of works from a list of artists.
  • One piece is a complete sonata from a selection of works from Yun, or a contemporary (composed in 1950 or later) artist.
  • One piece is of the performer's choice, with restrictions that it cannot be from a composer that has been presented before. A preliminary stage composer may be selected, but a different piece must be chosen. Piano accompaniment is allowed for some pieces.
  • The total duration of the performances also has a time limit.
  • The best performer of Yun's piece in this stage wins the Isang Yun Special Award.

A day is placed between the second and final stage. Competitors are notified on who is selected as a finalist. In previous competitions there were five finalists, all considered "Prize Winners". Between 2012 and 2013, only four prize winners were awarded. Starting from 2014, there were only three.

Final StageEdit

The final stage lasts one day. The finalists choose from a list of concertos and play the pieces with a full orchestra. As with the other stages, there is a time limit, and the pieces cannot be from previous stages.

The day after the final stage is the Winners Concert.

The competition originally awarded cash prizes in the currency of US Dollars, but starting with the 2012 Edition, the cash prizes are awarded in Korean Won (KRW).


The following are the prizes from the 2014 competition:

Ranking Title Cash Prize Remarks
1st 1st Prize (Winner) KRW 30,000,000 granted by Governor of Gyeongnam Province
2nd 2nd Prize (Winner) KRW 20,000,000
3rd 3rd Prize (Winner) KRW 10,000,000
Isang Yun Special Prize (Winner) KRW 2,000,000 awarded to the best performer of Isang Yun's work in the Second Stage
Seong-Yawng Park Special Prize (Winner) KRW 2,000,000 awarded to the most promising Korean competitor of young age in the Second or Final Stage / granted by Kumho Asiana Group


  • Income taxes are applied to the cash prize amount acccoing to South Korean tax laws.
  • Except for 1st Prize, ties may be awarded, where the prize money for that ranking and the next below ranking are averaged and awarded to the tied Winners.

The winners also have to do concerts and CD recordings, as well as return visits to perform at Tongyeong.[6]

List of Jury MembersEdit

The judging for the first, second, and final stage consists of nine "jury" members, two of whom are from South Korea, the host country. Complying with WFIMC statutes, the seven other members must come from other countries. One of the two South Korean jurors participates in the preliminary stage.

Year Chairman Preliminary Chairman Other Members
2003 Siegfried Palm Myung-Wha Chung (정명화) Young-Chang Cho (조영창), Lluis Claret, David Geringas, Walter Grimmer, Arto Noras, Leslie Parnas, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi
2004 Saschko Gawriloff Min Kim (김민) Ik-Hwan Bae (배익환), Vera Beths, James Buswell, Yao-Ji Lin, Igor Ozim, Jacqueline Ross, Akiko Tatsumi
2005 Klaus Hellwig Daejin Kim (김대진) Tong-Il Han (한동일), Haruko Kasama, Roland Keller, Anna Malikova, Jerome Rose, Erik Tawaststjerna, Françoise Thinat
2006 Wolfgang Boettcher Minja Hyun (현민자) Yi-Bing Chu, Jean-Marie Gamard, Toshiaki Hayashi, Paul Katz, Ivan Monighetti, Duk-Sung Na (나덕성), Uzi Wiesel
2007 Gérard Poulet Nam Yun Kim (김남윤) Eui Myung Kim (김의명), Harada Koichiro, Sergey Kravchenko, Mihaela Martin, Itzhak Rashkovsky, Krzysztof Wegrzyn, Lina Yu
2008 Robert Levin Soo-Jung Shin (신수정) Michel Beroff, Hung-Kuan Chen, Christopher Elton, Kaya Han (한가야), Michael Krist, Hiroko Nakamura, Boris Petrushansky
2009 Myung-Wha Chung (정명화) Myung-Wha Chung Richard Aaron, Karine Georgian, Ko Iwasaki, Jong Young Lee (이종영), Jens-Peter Maintz, Philippe Muller, Jian Wang, Hillel Zori[6]
2010 Daiuk Lee (이대욱) Daiuk Lee Kyung-Sook Lee (이경숙), Jerome Lowenthal, Siegfried Mauser, Pavel Nersessian, Matti Raekallio, Katsumi Ueda, Xu Zhong, Idith Zvi
2011 Christoph Poppen Kyung Sun Lee (이경선) Ariadne Daskalakis, Eszter Haffner, Michael Ma, Jagdish Mistry, Ho Young Pi (피호영), Kyoko Takezawa, Vera Tsu Wei-Ling
2012 Laurence Lesser Kangho Lee (이강호) Suren Bagratuni, Andrzej Bauer, Dmitry Feygin, Rocco Filippini, Dong-Oo Lee (이동우), Wen-Sinn Yang, Young Sook Yun (윤영숙)[7]
2013 Tong-Il Han (한동일) Aviram Reichert Bao Huiqiao, Akiko Ebi, Young-Lan Han (한영란), Thomas Hecht, Peter Paul Kainrath, Quentin Kim (김정권), Alexander Shtarkman[8]
2014 Young Uck Kim (김영욱) Young Uck Kim Shmuel Ashkenasi, Tanja Becker-Bender, Simon Blendis, Boris Garlitsky, Dong-Suk Kang (강동석), Takashi Shimizu, Wei-Dong Tong, Jean-Pierre Wallez
2015 Raimund Trenkler
2016 Daejin Kim
2017 Michael Haefliger


Prize WinnersEdit

The following table is a list of the finalists (aka Prize Winners) for each competition. Starting in 2012, there will only be four finalists.

Year 1st prize 2nd prize 3rd prize 4th prize 5th prize
2003   Julie Albers   Bong-Ihn Koh (고봉인)   Boris Andrianov   Na-Young Baek (백나영)   Silver Ainomae
2004   Bo-Kyoung Lee (이보경)   Erin Keefe not awarded (ex aequo et bono)[why?]   Carla Leurs   Lin Yue
2005   Victoria Kortchinskaia   Da Sol Kim (김다솔)   Norie Takahashi   Alexandre Moutouzkine   Young-Ah Tak (탁영아)
2006   Jung Ran Lee (이정란)   Bartosz Koziak
  Narek Hakhnazaryan
not awarded (tie)   Arnold Choi   Massimiliano Martinelli
2007   Haik Kazazyan   Solenne Paidassi   Jae Young Kim (김재영)   Min Jeong Suh (서민정)   Andrey Baranov
2008   Sofya Gulyak   Stanislav Khristenko   Mariangela Vacatello   Hong-Chun Youn (윤홍천)   Christopher Guzman
2009[6]   Christine Rauh   Jee-Hye Bae (배지혜)   Matthew Zalkind   Georgi Anichenko   Sung-Chan Chang (장성찬)
2010[9]   Yunjie Chen   Alessandro Deljavan   Elmar Gasanov   Ju-Eun Lee (이주은)
  Sungpil Kim (김성필)
not awarded (tie)
2011[10]   Yu-Chien Tseng   Jinjoo Cho (조진주)   Young-Uk Kim (김영욱)   Nigel Armstrong   Ji-Yoon Lee (이지윤)
2012[11][12]   Uladzimir Sinkevich   Angela Jeanyoung Park (박진영)
  Alexey Zhilin
not awarded (tie)   Jonathan Dormand
2013[13]   Hong-gi Kim (김홍기)   Ji Won Han (한지원)   Jeung Beum Sohn (손정범)   So Hyang In (인소향)
2014   Luke Hsu   Minkyung Sul (설민경)   Wonhee Bae (배원희)
2015   Ella van Poucke   Mun-Puo Lee   James Jeonghwan Kim (김정환)
2016   Hans H. Suh (서형민)   Gyu-Tae Ha (하규태)   Minsoo Hong (홍민수)
  Julia Kociuban
2017   Ji Won Song   Nancy Zhou   Nigel Armstrong

Isang Yun Special PrizeEdit

This award is given to the best performer of Isang Yun's piece during the second stage. It was originally named "Special Prize" in 2006, but Yun's name was added in 2007 to distinguish between the two special prizes.

Year Winner
2005   Sofya Gulyak
  Yorck-Hardy Rittner
2006   Jung Ran Lee (이정란)
2007   Haik Kazazyan
2008   Stanislav Khristenko
2009   Christine Rauh[6]
2010   Akihito Okuda
2011   Yu-Chien Tseng[10]
2012   Uladzimir Sinkevich[12]
2013 not awarded[13]
2014   Luke Hsu
2015   Woohyung Suh (서우형)
2016   Hans H. Suh (서형민)
2017   Nigel Armstrong

Seong-Yawng Park Special PrizeEdit

Starting in 2007, the Seong-Yawng Park Special Prize is given to the most promising young Korean performer from the second and final stages. It is sponsored by the Kumho Asiana Group.

Year Winner
2007 Jae Young Kim (김재영)
2008 Hong-Chun Youn (윤홍천)
2009 Yoon-Hye Chung (정윤혜)[6]
2010 Hong-Gi Kim (김홍기)
2011 Eun Ae Koh (고은애)[10]
2012 Angela Jeanyoung Park (박진영)[12]
2013 Hong-gi Kim (김홍기)[13]
2014 Gyehee Kim (김계희)
2015 James Jeonghwan Kim (김정환)
2016 Gyu-Tae Ha (하규태)
2017 Ji Won Song

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (2009-11-23). "German Cellist Wins Isang Yun Competition". Korea Times. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  2. ^ Kim, Hoo-ran (26 May 2006). "Local Music Contest Admitted to WFIMC". Korea Herald. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  3. ^ Koh, Young-aah (2010-03-30). "Music Competition to Commemorate Isang Yun". Korea Herald. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  4. ^ "Summary News from the General Assembly in Tbilisi" (PDF). Tbilisi International Piano Competition; Georgian Music Competitions Fund (in Georgian). 2008-05-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  5. ^ "ISANGYUN Competition 2013". World Federation of International Music Competitions. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  6. ^ a b c d e Lee, Hyo-won (2009-11-23). "German Cellist Wins Isang Yun Competition". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  7. ^ "Isangyun Competition 2012 – Jury". TIMF Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-04-16. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  8. ^ "Isangyun Competition 2013 – Jury". TIMF Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-11-15. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  9. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (2010-11-08). "Chinese pianist wins Isang Yun Competition". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  10. ^ a b c Kim, Yoon-mi (2011-11-07). "Taiwanese violinist tops Isang Yun Competition". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  11. ^ "Belarusian triumphs in Tongyeong". The Strad. 2012-11-05. Archived from the original on 2012-12-28. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  12. ^ a b c "Competitor – Final Announcement". 2012-11-03. Archived from the original on 2013-04-16. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  13. ^ a b c "Competitor – Final Announcement". 2013-11-15. Archived from the original on 2013-11-15. Retrieved 2013-11-15.

External linksEdit