L.I.N. – The Korean Invasion

March 25, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

Life as a 12 year-old was good until a friend of mine made me watch this: Autumn in My Heart. It’s a Korean drama about these two girls that were picked up by the wrong families after their births and forced into their real families when they realise they’ve been living with the wrong parents and siblings for about a decade. Their whole lives turn around…of course, for the worst. It’s the most tragic piece of television work. It gets you crying a river from the very first episode till the last. And that main theme? It haunts you for years. This friend even got both our mothers on board on the emotional roller coaster. A beautiful sunny day in the outskirts of Oslo turned into gloom when I walked in on both mothers drowning in a pool of tears. I knew better than to walk into the room, cause you knew things had just gone down when that damn tune started playing. All in all, not a very pleasant introduction to Korean pop culture.

It wasn’t till the age of 19 that I decided to give Korean pop culture another try. With no help from the ‘Hi Seoul, soul of Asia’ commercials, no matter how colourful and cheerful they made the Korean capital look. My Korean friends from high school were of no help either: one was a having deep affair with Gustav Mahler, another was my non-mainstream Yoda at the time and my best friend didn’t even listen to anything with lyrics. But just listen to this.

K-pop, a short for Korean pop, immersed beyond its home borders in the 2000s. Although the term refers to any genre of popular music from South Korea, over the past few years it’s commonly been used to identity a certain style of musical entertainment. To my understanding, it’s an industry that crafts talent through a factory-like process of casting, training and promotion. Famous management agencies include S.M. Entertainment (home to Girls Generation, BoA and Super Junior) , YG Entertainment (responsible for Epik High, 2NE1, Big Bang and PSY) and JYP Entertainment (which brought you Wonder Girls and 2PM). Most of the bands come in a package of catchy harmonised tunes and synchronised easy-to-learn dance steps polished up with good fashion and grand music videos.

Beyond ‘the factory’, South Korea has a lot of indie and non-mainstream talent to offer as well. Less recognised but worth more recognition, e.g. Gangnam Style. This week’s Listening to International Noise brings you two contrasting sounds from the country.

This episode’s playlist:

  1. The Boys by Girls Generation
  2. LUCIFER by SHINee
  3. Scream by BoA
  4. Hands Up by 2PM
  5. Ignition by Epik High
  6. Monster by Super Junior
  1. Americano 아메리카노 by 10cm
  2. Black Happiness by Yoon Mi-rae
  3. TV 를 껐네 by LeeSsang 리쌍 (feat. 윤미래, 권정열 of 10cm)
  4. 마지막 춤은 나와 함께 by Jae Joo So Nyeon 재주소년
  5. 귤 by Jae Joo So Nyeon 재주소년
  6.  독 by Primary 프라이머리 (feat. E-Sens of 슈프림팀)

쿠마파크(kumapark) – Donut Shop(feat.팔로알토)

 Many thanks to Kayla, Peter, HJ and others who helped me find sounds for this week.