Song Hae, a North Korean refugee who came to the South during the Korean War, was born in 1927 in what is now the North Korean town of Jaeryong.

In the late 1950s, he began his career as a vocalist in the entertainment sector, but it was as a comedian that he broke through. He became a mainstay on TV and radio shows as a lovable personality who peppered visitors with wisecracks and jokes.

Since 1988, Song has hosted the “National Singing Contest.” The show, which airs on Sundays at noon, travels across the country to cities and villages where amateur singing competitions are held.

Song’s long tenure on the show solidified his reputation as a television legend. In the heart of Seoul, he has a street named after him, and in the southern city of Daegu, there is a “Song Hae Park.”

Song leaves behind two daughters. The Seoul National University Hospital has put up a grieving hall for Song, who will be buried on Friday after a three-day funeral procession.