Your mother was keen for you to become a singer. Why was that so important to her?

She always wanted to be an opera singer but because of the poverty and the situation in that period – I’m talking about during the Korean War in the ‘50s – it was absolutely impossible to make her dream come true. As soon as she got married and realised she was waiting on a baby – it doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or girl – she decided it was supposed to be a singer. While she was waiting on me in her tummy, 24 hours a day she listened to Maria Callas’s recordings. So, inside of her I already knew that I had to become a singer to make her dream come true.

So did you just love music or did you ever feel pushed into opera?

Yeah, I was pushed by her a lot. I had to play piano eight hours a day at the age of four or five, and if I didn’t finish my mum wouldn’t open the door. I had to do classical ballet and drawing lessons and figure skating on ice. I went to a school to learn how to...