Sungha Jung , born 2 September 1996, is a South Korean musician who specializes in acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Jung creates acoustic covers and arrangements, typically by ear and/or by watching videos, and composes original songs, both of which he plays and uploads online. He is often described as a guitar prodigy, though he prefers to be known as a “guitarist” rather than a “prodigy.” His YouTube channel currently has more than 6.9 million subscribers.
Jung developed an interest in guitar after watching his father play. He found his father’s guitar playing more interesting than piano, which he was already learning. Jung’s father taught him the basics, and after learning the basics, he developed his skill greatly just by trying to play what he heard. When he struggled he would study online videos. Jung came to play fingerstyle when his father discovered the technique on the internet. His first “idol” was guitarist Kotaro Oshio, from whom he developed an interest in fingerstyle guitar. At first, Jung’s mother and grandmother disapproved of the “noise” that Jung and his father continuously created, but they came to understand it as his gift.
Trace Bundy found a video of 9-year-old Sungha Jung playing Bundy’s version of Canon. After Bundy saw his cover, Jung played with Bundy in tours throughout South Korea and the United States. Soon after his debut video on the internet, he garnered many supporters, from whom he asked for advice on his playing. His cover of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” theme song, which has over 61 million views on YouTube as of September 2020, made Jung an internet sensation, and his playing caught the attention of world-renowned guitarists, who found his covers of their songs impressive. Jung has since played on stage with them multiple times. Jung has received guitar lessons from Hata Shuji, a well-known Japanese jazz guitarist. He has also been mentored by German guitarist Ulli Bögershausen, who Jung has referred to as his musical inspiration, and from whom he learned much about composing and arranging.
In a video, he recommended the “AllEars method” for those who like his style of guitar playing and want to learn it. In addition to steel-string and classical guitar, he has been recorded playing twelve-string guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, guitalele, harp ukulele, and piano. He has also sung live, such as when he sang “Falling Slowly” at a concert in Bangkok. Apart from Korean, Jung speaks English, which he studied to be able to communicate during concerts abroad.
In 2010, Jung was featured on Narsha’s solo album NARSHA, for the song “I’m in Love”. In 2011 he performed in the US with Trace Bundy, and also toured Scandinavia and Japan. In 2012 he collaborated with 2NE1, creating acoustic versions of the group’s hit songs “Lonely” and “I Love You”. Later in 2012, he participated in a live stage with BIGBANG’s G-Dragon, where they performed “That XX”. He performed “I’m Yours” with Jason Mraz, who described Jung as “amazing” and his “hero”, in 2013. Jung played Ahn Hyeok in the 2011 Korean movie, The Suicide Forecast.