After his studies at the Yonsei University College of Music, the young Korean bass-baritone Kihwan Sim was accepted into the “Hochschule für Musik und Theater” in Hamburg to study with professor Geert Smits.
Kihwan Sim has won prizes at several acclaimed international singing competitions such as the 1st Prize at the International Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Finland, the 2nd Prize at the Neue Stimmen competition in Germany (both in 2009), the 2nd Prize at the “Paris International Opera Competition” in 2010 and the 1st Prize at the International Long-Thibaud-Crespin Competition in 2011 in France.
Sim made his first appearance on European opera stages in 2011, singing Figaro in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at Staatstheater Darmstadt and Masetto (Don Giovanni) at the prestigious Savonlinna Opera Festival. After a successful season in the opera studio of the Frankfurt Opera, he was asked to join their soloist ensemble in autumn 2012. His first main roles there included the Duke of Albany in Aribert Reimann's Lear, Colline (La bohème), Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Talbot (Maria Stuarda), Count Rodolfo (La Sonnambula), Procida (Vespri Siciliani), Gottardo (La gazza ladra), Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor), Leporello (Don Giovanni) and the title role in Verdi’s Oberto. In recent seasons, he added Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), Don Ruy Gomez de Silva (Ernani), Méphistophélès (Damnation de Faust), Escamillo (Carmen), Ferrando (Il trovatore), Lodovico (Otello), Ramfis (Aida), Gremin (Eugene Onegin) and Daland (Der Fliegende Holländer), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Escamillo (Carmen) and Capellio (Rossini’s Bianca e Falliero) to his repertoire.
In addition to his busy schedule in Frankfurt, Kihwan Sim has also appeared in guest performances as Procida at the Opéra de Nice and Colline at Oper Köln, shortly followed by his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the same role in January 2016. In the following season, Sim performed the bass solo in Verdi’s Messa di Requiem with the La Verdi Orchestra and the role Lord Gualtiero Valton in I Puritani by Bellini at the Festival of Radio France in Montpellier. In 2018, Sim made his debut at London's Covent Garden in Strauss' Salome as 1.Nazarener and was invited back to the Metropolitan opera for Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 2019. Recently he sang Escamillo at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen. In July 2022, Sim sang the bass solo of Messa da Requiem by Verdi at the BBC Proms first night concert in London with BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by maestro Sakari Oramo.
The most recent and future engagements include Sarastro, Gremin, Le Roi Marc (Le vin herbé) and Bruckner’s 9th Symphony at the Frankfurt Opera and Colline at Malmö Opera.
Kihwan Sim participated in recordings of Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot and Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, both on Oehms Classics label, and was featured in Rolando Villazon’s television series Stars of Tomorrow, broadcast on ARTE.