"Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound, funny, but it's folk/psych/prog/70s Korean rock to me
November 5, 2009 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Boys dared to grow their hair and girls dared to wear mini skirts and in Korea indecency officers patroled the street with scissors and rulers, publicly cutting hair too long and checking if skirts were too short. Shin Joong-hyung, was there with his 70s hit, Beauty, as were other musicians and artists like Sanullim and the Key Boys.

Shin's memorable hook from "Beauty" of "I look at her once, look at her twice, I want to keeping looking at her” matched with an addictive beat and guitar riff created the trend of "I _____ once, _____ twice, I keep wanting to ______" wordplay according to Jishik Shidae's E documentary on Shin (link to part two, giving video clips, photos and some of the music from the time). Shin was performing since the 50s, beginning his career entertaining US troops, and in the 60s in bands like Add4 and he continued to pump out popular hits that are still familiar to the ears of many Koreans today.

For example, Beautiful Rivers and Mountains, topped the charts again in the 80s when it was covered by power vocalist Lee Sun-hee, and is now considered one of her greatest hits (song clip is actually from a 2003 performance in North Korea as part of a "Reunification Concert" where South Korean singers went to perform in North Korea).

Shin, who is considered the godfather of rock and soul in Korea, was an influential guitarist and musician. He also wrote songs for and worked with other acts like the Pearl Sisters (1, 2). Another one of his great hits, Officer Kim Returning from Vietnam, was performed by Kim Chu-ja.

Sanullim were also a force to be reckoned with. Even though they created progressive and psychedelic music, the trio were also responsible for many recognizable hit now part of the Korean pop music lexicon with hits and exploded onto the scene with "Oh, no! Already?" (linked above) from their first album.

From Sanullim's first album:
Restless Heart
Open the Door

A couple of songs from Sanullim's second album:
I Think It's Really Like That
Dear One Leaving Me
Lining My Heart With Silk

The Key Boys were responsible for another one of the most recognizable Korean songs Let's Go to the Beach, a karaoke favorite and covered by numerous performers, including punk band No Brain in 2001.

It wasn't just the boys who got to play, there were also female artists with a more pop sound like Kim Jung-mi and Yoon Si-nae

Another song that most Koreans are familiar with: Song Gol-mae's 80s hit, You, Who I Accidentally Ran Into

To see album covers read up some more info (including how much collectors are paying for some of these albums!) check out Belgian Psyche Van Het Folk radio show's collection of Korean psychedelic folk music and their labyrinthine links.

Other folk-style acts to note:

Yang Hee-eun
Kim Jung-ho

One of Shin Jung-hoon's hits was One Cup of Coffee, (performed by the Pearl Sisters). Interestingly enough, one of the more current incarnations of Korean folk and psych tradition, Chang Ki-ha and The Faces, were able to escape unknown indie band status with another coffee-themed hit, Cheap Coffee.

Chang Ki-ha and The Faces perform with an enigmatic, silent and stony-faced background dancer/backup singer duo named The Mimi Sisters," an obvious nod to the 60s-70s both in the naming convention and in their sometimes retro style of dress:

Why Does that Man...?
The Moon is Becoming Full
Accept Me
posted by kkokkodalk (12 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Excellent post, many thanks kkokkodalk! Plenty of stuff to follow up on. And 'Beautiful Rivers and Mountains' is an epic, epic track. see also by dhoyt - that led me from The Pearl Sisters to Shin Joong Hyun to Kim Jung Mi and others.
posted by carter at 6:04 PM on November 5, 2009

This is fantastic! Thanks kkokkodalk!
posted by pantsrobot at 6:05 PM on November 5, 2009

see also by dhoyt
Sweet! awesome to see it's something that's been brought up before and it's something people are interested in. I couldn't find a search match, but at the same time I guess my Youtube-heavy post didn't overlap too much so, whew, no double.
posted by kkokkodalk at 6:20 PM on November 5, 2009

Absolutely not a double.
posted by carter at 6:40 PM on November 5, 2009

Great Post! Lived in Korea for 4 years in the early 80's but missed many of these. Thanks!
posted by white_devil at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2009

That song One Cup of Coffee was pretty great.

Thanks for the post.
posted by defenestration at 7:23 PM on November 5, 2009

잘 했어요!
posted by bardic at 9:41 PM on November 5, 2009

Awesome, thanks!
posted by bigtex at 11:54 PM on November 5, 2009

I watched a great movie about this period in Korean history recently -- GoGo 70's, about a band who develop a love for soul music, picked up around the US bases, and so create their own band, The Devils, playing 'Seoul Music' before falling foul of the repressive regime of the time.

While it's largely your typical feelgood commercial rock pic, I'd been completely unaware of this repressive period in Korea's history, so I found the film fascinating.

The film is based on the real life story of The Devils.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:56 AM on November 6, 2009

Great stuff.
posted by dfan at 1:37 PM on November 6, 2009

Yay! I'm living in Korea now, so this is even MORE awesome.
posted by nile_red at 4:02 PM on November 8, 2009

Thanks so much for this awesome post!

Really digging Chang Ki Ha and the Faces. Amazing vocalist, amazing guitar and everything. I love how CKH and the Mimi Sisters look like they're channeling Stop Making Sense-era David Byrne in the "WHOOOOOA OHHHHH OH WHOAAAA OHH OHHHH" part of the Moon Is Becoming Full performance, and of course, the song itself is awesome.
posted by cobwebberies at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2009

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