Scholarship Spotlight — Professional Pianist, Kangwoo Jin Living with Hemophilia and Pursuing his Passion

“I’m always thankful that I can still play the piano and make the music I can,” said Kangwoo, who began playing piano at age 7 in South Korea. “I’m more hopeful and try to be positive.”

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Bachelor of Music, Hanyang University, South Korea

Masters of Music and Performer Diploma, Indiana University

Doctoral Candidate in Piano Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Doctoral Candidate, Performance and Pedagogy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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As a professional pianist, Kangwoo Jin must practice at least 3-5 hours every day — more if he is preparing for a concert. Living with severe hemophilia A, Kangwoo needs to be wise in his rehearsal and practice plans so that he doesn’t further aggravate joint damage to his right elbow, which he can no longer bend or stretch thoroughly. He practices his most demanding practice sessions on infusion days and must avoid some very demanding pieces because they cause him too much pain.

Kangwoo has performed in venues in both South Korea and the United States, including a debut concert at the prestigious Sejong Arts Center in Seoul, Korea in 2005. In 2016, Kangwoo was selected as the winner of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Concerto Competition, where he was invited to perform Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2 in c minor, and Op.18 with the UW Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he was a two-time winner of the UW-Madison Beethoven Competition and he has performed live on Wisconsin Public Radio. As a devoted educator, Kangwoo has been teaching for more than 15 years. At UW-Madison, he taught Piano Performance Critique and Classical Piano Classes in the Summer Music Program. This fall, he will teach a piano class through UW Continuing Studies and join the faculty of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee.

GLHF has supported Kangwoo through a scholarship and financial assistance. The scholarship award will help him travel to performances and conference presentations. As a music doctoral student, it is extremely important that he stays active in performance and concert activities to be competitive in the job market. “The scholarship provided will help me greatly improve my professional skills and go further with my career as a musician,” said Kangwoo.

GLHF also assisted Kangwoo with paying his medical insurance premium. “International students are not allowed to work over a certain amount of time per week,” he said. “I am teaching many students but I cannot afford the insurance and rent. So, getting help for my health insurance allows me to work on my studies without having to worry about making money.”

After completing his doctorate degree, Kangwoo would like to get a job in the United States as an art teacher or piano professor at an institution that also offers good insurance coverage. If he returns to Korea, he fears he will suffer more joint damage. “My treatment will not be equal to what I receive in the U.S.,” said Kangwoo. “In Korea, there is a fixed quota for how much factor I can receive, and as a pianist it is certainly not enough. That is why my right elbow was damaged by bleeds while in Korea.”

Kangwoo is also ready to give back to the community. “If I can provide anything with my talent, I would very much like to do that for the people who helped me. In the end, the most meaningful thing to me is to inspire kids with physical challenges with the music I make.”

GLHF is honored to be able to help Kangwoo continue to pursue his education. We wish him great success in all of his future endeavors!