Ye-Soon or Kim, both are terrific


Once upon a story, in the enchanted realm of Hua Hin, there lived a retiring, young-at-heart beauty named Ye-Soon. 

Try as she might, doing good deeds at every opportunity, this princess of a woman knew deep within her heart that there was still more that she could do to help the living creatures of this world.  She was searching for a partner in music who would help her bring to life her dream of utilising her musical talent to raise funds.  And being a modern Mistress, Ye-Soon knew exactly where to find that partner who would gently tickle the ivories, and her fancy. 

So, she contacted the Facebook Godmother with a request to find her just the musician she needed to bring her passion and her voice to Hua Hin.  On the other side of the world, her post was read, and a talented jazz pianist answered her call. The lady met this fellow, and they knew that it was much more than a hunch, that the pair of them should form a jazz duo. And that’s the way they became “Kim & Barry”. By the way, I need to add that Ye-Soon and Barry are happily married – to other people, and all four of them are good friends.

OK, fewer flights of fancy please, and some more fundamental facts. So, Ye-Soon’s surname is Kim, the most common in her native land, and although she is now Swiss by nationality, she was born in South Korea, where she lived until the age of 14. She was then re-united with her parents, after 5 years of living apart from them while it was arranged for the 5 children of the family to join their parents in Switzerland.

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Ye-Soon’s parents were keen for the children to access the highly regarded Swiss education system, although they were very traditionally Asian in some other aspects of their parenting.  It wasn’t till much later in her life that Ye-Soon appreciated that her parents did indeed love her and did the very best they knew how to do in raising her and her four siblings.

Ye-Soon bravely left the family home at the age of 20, at a time and in a culture where it was expected she remain at home until her marriage, so strong was her desire for freedom.  Ye-Soon had to support herself, which she did by working full-time jobs in administration and IT in the banking industry and in purchasing management with an energy company.  But the drive to follow her dream as a singer was strong, and she received vocal training at the Conservatory in both Lucerne and Zurich in Switzerland, outside office hours.  

Ye-Soon’s love of singing and performing has seen her work across more than three decades as a live and studio singer, even providing backing vocals for a Eurovision contestant.  So, you can understand that from the age of 3, singing has taken a prominent place in Ye-Soon’s life.  Many of us have sung into our hairbrush, or in the shower, but Kim & Barry use their talents to much better effect.

Now that she is retired, Ye-Soon is able to indulge her other love, and that is philanthropy.  Wherever she looks, she is able to find an animal, a cause or a person who needs her help and support, and Ye-Soon is certainly a giver, whether it is time, effort or money.

Ye-Soon and her German-born Swiss husband Horst have supported a number of charity organisations since their arrival in Hua Hin in late 2019. They spent 3 months during the early part of the Covid pandemic distributing food to the needy as well as supporting a Christian orphanage on the Myanmar border. For the couple, transparency in the works of a charitable organisation is a key element, as they believe it is essential for the donations to keep flowing.

Ye-Soon relies on Horst’s continued strength, commitment and support in all they jointly undertake. The couple is aware of the deep suffering of dogs in Thailand and would like to be in a position to rescue each and every one of them.  Their two “fur babies” are lucky animals indeed.  It came as no surprise to me to learn that Rescue Paws in Khao Tao and Animal Army Clinic in Pattaya, with its animal ambulance, fitted out in memory of their beloved rescue dog Jabba, are ongoing beneficiaries of the couple’s donations and have been since 2020.

As well, they are passionate supporters of the For Future Foundation, headed by Khun Paang, a non-profit organisation which aims to create a brighter future for Thailand’s children and animals. For Future Foundation is the parent organisation of Rescue Paws, which works tirelessly to spay local dogs and find them forever homes.  

The Kim & Barry Jazz Duo has formulated its very own path to philanthropic good.  Ye-Soon has become expert at approaching dining venues and pitching her proposal.  She and Barry will play 2-3 sets over a 3-hour period, bringing their own equipment to the venue and being responsible for the set up and pack up.  Diners are asked to make a voluntary contribution which most are very happy to do.  This year all donations are going directly to Jungle Aid, a local private charity with which many readers will already be familiar but each year this may change, depending on perceived need and the projects being undertaken.

Ye-Soon and her German-born Swiss husband Horst

The duo is performing 3 to 4 times a month, across different venues, usually those with a mainly Western client base. I believe the average amount raised for each performance is close to 4000 baht, but Ye-Soon recalls one night where it was closer to 9000 baht.  Both of them are very grateful to all the restaurants who have participated, but are especially thankful to those who helped them start their initiative, including L’Occitan, C’est la Vie and La Terrasse. 

It is a win/win/win situation.  The duo gets a ready-made venue and audience for its music, the restaurant has a positive boost to their ambiance for the evening, and the chosen charity gets regular, substantial donations, with zero effort on its part.  A magical idea indeed.

Ye-Soon has a very personal philosophy on the true meaning of life.  She told me, “We are here to learn to do something for the whole.”  This selfless approach to existence informs all she does, though her best friend might hint that at times she can have too good a heart.  Although not naïve, Ye-Soon is trusting and this trust may not always be justified.  There is still a lot for her to learn, according to Ye-Soon.  She tries hard to limit making judgements about people, preferring instead to be ready to understand what motivates them.  Respect for others is also a foundation stone of her core beliefs. But she is quick to admit she is still working on anger management and her natural impulsivity.

The most striking aspects of Ye-Soon’s personality are her desire and ability to live in the present moment. She has no bucket-list, she has let go of the past, and she measures a successful day by whether she has managed to make people happy.  Because she immerses herself totally in everything she does, she finds people who are “minimalist”, i.e., those who do as little as possible in any situation, concerning.  She truly strives to do more, constantly, to improve the whole, in a journey that is deeply spiritual, yet not tied to any organised religion.

With Ye- Soon already having such a profound satisfaction in where she is at this moment, it isn’t hard to bring a smile to her face. Sitting enjoying a morning coffee with Horst and the dogs will do it.  Sharing a serve of tiramisu with him will do it too.  Any vegetarian pasta dish will certainly work just as well. I certainly admire Ye-Soon’s ability to be completely satisfied with what she has, right here, right now. Having grand ambitions can be so over-rated.