The word "genius" should not be used to describe an individual with extraordinary talents, but rather an individual who uses those talents to inspire the best from those around him. In this sense, "genius" is a fit appellation for the leader of Samulnori, Kim Duk Soo. Born in 1952 in Daejon, his father, Kim Mun Hak, chose him out of eight other siblings to follow in his footsteps as a professional musician in the tradition of wandering artists troupe, Namsadang.
At the age of seven, he was awarded the President's Award in the National Folk Music Contest and was henceforth known as the child prodigy of the drums. This award marked the beginning of an amazing personal career that has taken him to almost every corner of the world. He graduated from the Korean Traditional Music and Performing Arts School in Seoul, where great masters such as Do Il Yang, Yong Yoon Nam, and Soon Gap Song, taught him the Janggu, (hourglass drum), and Kkwaenggwari, (small gong), and attended one year of college before the demands of his professional life took over.
When in 1978 he founded SamulNori, his life took on new and complicated dimensions. There were four specific purposes in forming the group: to research more extensively the traditional music of Korea, to study the music and instruments (especially percussion instruments) of other traditions throughout the world, to create new music, and to provide educational opportunities for students and others to learn Korean percussion.
He has since traveled around the world performing on more than 5000 stages under the name of Samulnori. In addition to his work as a performing artist, Kim Duk Soo has also created, managed and directed numerous productions involving not only music but also dance and theatre: Nanjang Festival (Berlin '96) Seoul Drum Festival '99, Younggo, Puri & Nori, etc.
Over the years and through his extensive work as a performing artist, teacher, and artistic director, Kim Duk Soo has been recognized as one of the fifty most influential figures in Korea over the last five decades. One of the main reasons for his success is his belief that beating the rhythm will lead him to the Way, and what he has gained from that experience has been a source for the growth of SamulNori. His most important goals have always been to create new music through the development of traditional Korean percussion music by research, as well as refining its methodology and pedagogy, and the training of the next generation of musicians.