Music Festival Boom in Korea


Until the 1990s, music festivals were unimaginable to locals Korean music fans.  A couple of festivals have begun to be organized after the mid-1990s and it has grown into a big business since the mid-2000s. The year 2013 would be the peak of the festival boom. Yearlong fests are going on smooth and the new ones are still emerging. About the list of the festivals between March and August this year, see below. While some are international ones, while others are largely local. That’s why some have English websites, wile others are not.

What kinds of music are there? There are different genres/styles in different festivals: pop, rock, jazz, electronica etc. But the most popular ones in the local festivals would be ‘indie pop/rock,’ which is not-so-popular to  international ‘K-pop’ fandom.  You can check how it sounds in the website of one of the (local)  festivals in May: Greenplugged Fastival ( above is the poster). Although there are clash of schedule with two other festivals (!), the two-days tickets are sold-out already.

I wonder if something similar is going on in other parts of Asia. If so (with differences in many respects, of course), it needs to be under serious investigation and discussion. One thing I can say for sure at this moment is that ‘live music’ is becoming more important than ‘recorded music’ for non-mainstream Korean pop musicians and their fans. But that would not be the whole story. Any information we can share? (HJ)

<Music Festivals in Korea in 2013>

Seoul Live Music Festa Vol.14 March 30 5 theaters in Hongdae, Seoul-si
Beautiful Mint Life 2013 April 27,28 Goyang Aram Nuri, Ilsan
Metal Fest 2013 May 9 Olympic Hall, Olympic Park, Seoul-si
Seoul Jazz Festival 2013 May 17,18 Olympic Park, Seoul-si
Jarasum Rhythm & BBQ Festival May 17,18 Jarasum, Gapyeong-gun Gyeonggi-do
Green Plugged Seoul 2013 May 17,18 Nanji Hangang Park, Seoul-si
2013 World DJ Festival May 17-19 Narukke Festival Park (나루께축제공원), Yangpyeong-gun Gyeonggi-do
Rainbow Island 2013 June 7-9 Namiseom Island, Gapyeong-gun Gyeonggi-do
Ultra Korea 2013 June 14,15 Olympic Park Stadium, Seoul-si
Muse in City June 15 Olympic Park, Seoul-si
2013 Ansan Valley Rock Festival July 26-28 Daebu Sea Breeze Theme Park (대부바다향기테마파크), Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do
Jisan World Rock Festival August 2-4 Jisan Valley Ski Resort, Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival August 2-4 Songdo International city, Incheon-si
Super Sonic 2013 August 14-16 Olympic Park Seoul-si

☞ Festival Homepages:
Seoul Live Music Festa: (Korean)
Beautiful Mint Life: (Korean)
Green Plugged Seoul: (Korean)
2013 World DJ Festival: (Korean, English)
Rainbow Island: (Korean)
Ultra Music Festival Korea (Korean, English)
Ansan Valley Rock Festival: (Korean)

☞ Reservations
[Metal Fest 2013] (English)
[Seoul Jazz Festival] (English)
[World DJ Festival] (English)
[Rainbow Island] (English)


by terebikun

What do university teachers need to know besides teaching, researching, grant writing, and organizing conferences? How about throwing good socials? To make a good social, you will most definitely need help from enthusiastic and talented young people.

On October 29, 2010, students from the Graduate Institute of Mass Communication at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) took over the terrace just outside the entrance of the College of Education Building. With posters, flyers, candles, and projected video on the wall, they made a cozy nook for the Happy Hour social following the conference, “Becoming Mobilized and Networked! Technology, Gender, and Inter-Asia Popular Culture in the South.”

In the corner, a medium-built, bespectacled young man in a blue “N.Y.C.” sweatshirt was connecting a laptop, a digital mixer, speakers and cables. Meet DJ Miracle (Yen Cheng-ling), the sonic man awaiting to transform the brief dusk-hour social as soon as the last session let out. A recent graduate who wrote a M.A thesis on the use and invention of “Asianized” sounds by Taiwanese electronic music producers, he first revealed his specialized interest in a required course. A bedroom DJ for years, he said he was coming out that day.

A week after the conference, I met with DJ Miracle at a café near the university. Listening (again) to his set, entitled “Trajectory 8,” we talked about his debut experience and the work behind his set.

Note: It’s taken me a while to do this piece. And I learned a lot about what my student can do and how they listen to pop music! Some of you were there (e.g., Tunghung, Ubonrat, Viriya, Hyunjoon). Perhaps the piece can serve as a memento.

Download the PDF file of the complete interview Brit-Pop DJ for One Night.


Mnet Ultimate Live in Thailand

K-pop popularity in Thailand seems still so high. On the 13th Nov, 2010, there was a concert “Mnet Ultimate Live in Thailand” which was held in Impact Arena, one of the biggest concert hall in the country. However, the organizer claimed that it is the first K-pop concert festival in Thailand but actually it consists of only 4 bands in the same/Brother Company, JYPE and Cube Entertainment. Anyway, two of them are in the top level of industries both in South Korea and internationally, Wonder Girls and 2PM and the other two that also has many fans here, Beast and 4 minutes. That cause about 10, 000 fans both Thai and from Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam or even Korea gathered in this concert. And the language barrier is not a problem for their fans to sing along with their favorite artists.

2PM I Can\’t Mnet Ultimate Live in Thailand

Reggae, Ska & Mor Lum

by viriya

“Ska Variety” by OK Mocca released in the early of 2009 and then immediately got into a hit song among Thai youngsters. This song was written by OK Mocca’s bassist, Thanawut Hirunkan, who also mentioned in the lyrics “What kind of the song we are playing now? Is it Ska or Reggae?”. In the seminar book “The Rastafarians” Leo E. Barrett(1988) urges that Reggae and Ska haven’t distinctive music of their own. They are mixed music which combined Jazz, R& B, Rock ’n’ Roll and a traditional style of Jamaica folk.  No one knew exactly why the developed in that way. In youtube linked below, it’s  a live version of “Ska Variety “performed by OK Mocca at Hit & Tist # 1 music festival, March 7-8th, 2009, Mea Rim beach, Rayong province, Thailand, they mixed this song with Mor Lum ( 30 seconds of intro and  6.00-6.10), a traditional style of northeast Thai folksong, not only music but also performance style( female dancers). Their rhythms still Ska but have been gradually absorbed into local one, that’s Mor Lum you can dance with.

Between 10.4 and 11.1~How I Used the IACS Special Issue on Popular Music in One Class

by terebikun

Last semester (spring 2010) I taught at my university (National Taiwan Normal University) an M.A. level course called Popular Culture Seminar: Inter-Asia as a Method. Thanks to Hyunjoon Shin’s timely digital dissemination of the entire issue, I quickly integrated the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (IACS) Special Issue on Popular Music (Volume 10, Issue 4) into my course planning. In this post I wish to share a few things from the experience, which will hopefully provide some material for further discussion about the status and contribution of the special issue.

As each course has its own unique narrative, which meshes with the ongoing personal and professional narratives of its students and teacher, let me fist say a few things about this class. It was the sixth time I taught it, which, to any prospective participant, is basically the “popular culture” class. I have reinvented its subtitles and syllabi numerous times. The first year I taught it, I used Sarah Thornton’s The Subcultures Readers as the required text and the class didn’t have any “inter-Asia” component. Soon after this torturing experience, I realized I needed to make this class a playground for me to figure out what I was really doing with my life. Then it was “inter-Asia” all the way.

With the emerging material (published research) on inter-Asia popular culture, and with my own involvement in it, this class easily became my thing. Yet I was often confused about how to bridge my own affinity with “inter-Asia” and my students’ distance from “inter-Asia.” Added to this predicament was that I started to teach this class in English two years ago. The university throws in a bonus for anyone who wishes to teach in English. But there needs to be a reason to draw in the students. Despite the push for English learning in many societies where English is not the official language, passive resistance still works quite well. After some trial-and-error, I got to know what I didn’t want—I didn’t want my class to become a weekly English speaking contest (where few dominate) or a weekly reiteration of the assigned readings (where students “hide” behind somebody else’s ideas and words). One solution seemed to be to have the students do “their own thing” in the “Asian English” they invent.

Entered Spring 2010. The first thing I did was to get rid of “student reports on assigned readings”—which I suspect is a common mode of teaching and learning in Taiwan. I still assigned weekly readings to cover themes and issues in Inter-Asia popular culture, but I shifted the responsibility of picking out readings to my students. So, for instance, in Week 9, my agenda was to introduce the Inter-Asia Pop Music network to them. I assigned the introduction article from IACS 10.4—a three pager that no students could refuse—plus any two articles of their pick from the same special issue. Upon request, my students emailed me their reading choices a week in advance.

So, how did we carry on a conversation in class when people were reading different things? Let me just add that of the three hours that we met each week, only half of the class time was reserved for readings related discussion. The other half was used for “rolling presentations,” which consisted of five assignments over the course of the semester that have no necessary relationship with the readings. Specifically, I asked my students to (1) give a biography of themselves as a popular culture participant, (2) review one anthology in the area of popular culture in Asia, (3) develop a popular culture studies topic, (4) to figure out the “method” of an inter-Asia researcher, and (5) to “become” inter-Asian in their own topic.

Perhaps because everything was a little loose—such as the feeling that no reading was treated as canonical, or that the students were there to share their personal and academic engagement—this looseness encouraged mutual teaching. During the first half of the class, I asked each student to name a keyword or key phrase that would synthesize their reading experience. After I put their keywords on the white board, they realized they had some explaining to do since no one did exactly the same readings. At the end of the semester, several students told me that the “keyword” exercise helped them organize their ideas and encouraged peer teaching in their own words. One student asked me how I came up with the idea. To be honest, I was just trying to get out of the teacherly questioning that has become expected by everyone in class whether or not it is uttered, “So, what do you think (of the reading)?”

In this class I was constantly surprised by “unexpected sharing.” I mean, I would reveal thoughts and experiences that were not in my notes. Strictly limited edition! Actually, going into the classroom, my notes usually contained just five or six points or questions typed on one sheet of paper in very a large font for easy glancing in class. The rest is blank space for notetaking and on-the-spot responses. Compare this one-pager with my script-like lecture notes when I first started teaching. I have come a long way and I’m not feeling too bad about it. This class made me feel teaching is sharing meaningful hours and growing compassionate with certain individuals in real time.

I have been trying to figure out what it is that allows people to trust each other and share information and ideas. Sharing should not be taken for granted. That very first assignment—to give a presentation on oneself as a popular culture participant—might have been significant. My original intent was to use the assignment to break ice. After all, to speak in one’s non-native language in front of an audience can still be intimidating. And I wanted to hear something from the heart than from the academic jargon clouds. My students talked about the music, sports, books, images, video, film, fashion, and brands that mattered to them. They recounted the circumstances of various cultural encounters, which inevitably revealed bits and pieces of their personal history. They consume popular culture voraciously and ordinarily, but they do more than consuming. One student is a guitar player in an indie band. Another student is involved in running an art and performance space and magazine. One girl dresses consciously to negotiate gender and generational tension. Another girl always seems to be involved in some miraculous moments in baseball games and concerts aided by fan activities. Pretty soon, like facebook and through facebook, the students were busy making their own connections. And I was busy taking notes and looking up bands, musicians, movies, and books they mentioned in class.

In hindsight, I felt the first assignment was a little cruel. What right does the teacher have to “require” the students to reveal their private passion, cultural investment and personal experiences? But my students had such openness about cultural knowledge and engagement that it easily stripped away my worries about cultural judgment. From my past experience, it didn’t always work that way. People were guarded about how their tastes might be judged.

I am not sure this class can be repeated, and it is because I will not have the same group of students. This was the most diverse class I have had. Students from my M.A program in communication constituted less than half of the class. The others were exchange undergraduate student, nontraditional student between employment and schooling, and students from other universities and other departments.

There may be another reason why this class could not be repeated, and it has something to do with popular music. It just so happened that my students this time were passionate about popular music. Yes, they are well-versed about sports, movies, art, fandom, so on and so forth, but popular music was the strongest link that facilitated the meeting of social, personal, private, visual, historical, practical, and theoretical energies.

So, some of my students were a little disappointed to find out that when it was time to do their second presentation—a review of an English-language anthology about Asian popular culture. They could not locate an edited volume on popular music in Inter-Asia. Of course, there are single-authored books, numerous journal articles, and special issues in this area. In the week that I wanted to suggest collaboration as a possible route to “become Inter-Asian,” I assigned “Translation of ‘America’ During the Early Cold War Period: A Comparative Study on the History of Popular Music in South Korea and Taiwan (Shin and Ho 2009) and “Asianizing K-Pop: Production, Consumption and Identification Patterns Among Thai Youth” (Siriyuvasak and Shin 2007).

Still, IACS 10.4 was critical for me as a teacher and researcher (Sorry to the authors in IACS 11.1 because it was not published yet when I planned my class). I recommended Yiu Fai Chow’s “Me and the Dragon: A Lyrical Engagement with the Politics of Chineseness” to my student with the band. He had been trying to articulate the politics behind his music writing and performance. I recommended Yoshitaka Mori’s “J-Pop: From the Ideology of Creativity to DiY Culture” to the student running the art/performance space. The group she is associated with—Jia Wen Qing, or FLAT (Fake Literary and Artistic Teenagers)—seems to have something in common with the freeters in Japan. Read together in the special issue, Hyunjoon Shin’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain? And Who Will Stop the Rain? The Globalizing Project of Korean Pop” and Tung-hung Ho’s “Taike Rock and Its Discontent” brought out the problematic of scale when doing comparative cultural industry analyses in the region.

I am grateful that the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Special Issue on Popular Music was published. I am grateful to the students who took my class this time. Could an anthology be planned to meet the experiences and demands of our students in different places? I don’t know. Ideally, any publishing project should meet the initiators’ and contributors’ desire all the way. Right now, for my selfish purpose, would anybody like to visit my class next year to explain their “method of researching popular music in the Inter-Asia context?” Because that assignment (presentation 4) really confused my students…

p.s. Please write me if you are interested in the syllabus:


Chow, Yiu Fai. “Me and the Dragon; A Lyrical Engagement with the Politics of Chineseness.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 10.4 (2009): 544-564.

Ho, Tung-Hung. “Taike Rock and Its Discontent.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 10.4 (2009): 565-584.

Mori, Yoshitaka. “J-Pop: From the Ideology of Creativity to DiY Music Culture” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 10.4 (2009): 474-488.

Shin, Hyunjoon. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain? And Who’ll Stop the Rain?: The Globalizing Project of Korean Pop (K-Pop). Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 10.4 (2009): 507-523.

Shin, Hyunjoon and Tung-Hung Ho. “Translation of ‘America’ During the Early Cold War Period: A Comparative Study on the History of Popular Music in South Korea and Taiwan.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 10.1 (2009): 83-102.

Siriyuvasak, Ubonrat and Hyunjoon Shin. “Asianizing K-Pop: Production, Consumption and Identification Patterns Among Thai Youth.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 8.1 (2007): 109-136.

“Listen to Your Mother” lyrics

by terebikun

Dear all, it was lovely to meet you all at the IAPMS in Hong Kong. It was by far the most awesome conference experience I’ve ever had. Thanks to everyone and especially the (transnational) organizers and local hosts.

I thought I would post the translation of the lyrics of the Jay Chou song, “Listen To Your Mother,” which I played during the wrap-up “share-your-music-history” session. The song may sound…Confucianist…to some, since it promotes studying hard, filial piety, and various typical traits associated with certain normative “Asian values.”

But for those of “us” who found both pain and outlet in playing classical piano, Jay Chou’s tender lyrics and achievement are encouraging (success is one in a million but at least he succeeded). The song also tells the common transition from the classical world to pop music/culture. Canto pop singer Jacky Cheung (張學友)’s “Kiss Goodbye” (吻別) and Chow Yun-Fat’s (周潤發) movie God of Gambling (賭神) were referenced. So Jay Chou may be revealing bits of his own personal music/pop culture history as well.

Here are the lyrics and video:

Listen To Your Mom/ Jay Chou

Hey kid you must have lots of questions

Why do I gotta study drawing and talk to the piano when other kids are reading comic books

Why do I gotta sit against the wall and memorize ABCs when other kids are playing

When I got older I began to understand

Why do I run faster and fly higher than others

Everyone is reading the comic books I drew

Everyone is singing the songs I wrote

Mommy won’t show you how hard she works

In her heart lives a warm recipe

Hold her hands when you have a moment

Hold her hands and sleepwalk together
I said I wanted a big airplane, but all I got was an old recorder

Why do I have to listen to Mom

You will understand it when you are older

Listen to your mom, don’t break her heart

Grow up fast so you can protect her

Her beautiful white hair is sprouting in happiness

Her angelic magic is growing tender in warmth

In your future, music is your game

Find your game and then fall in love

Sigh, I don’t want to point you down the wrong path

So please listen to your Mom and fall in love a little later

I know all about your future

But your mom knows better

Like your classmates, you will doodle all over your school bag

But I suggest writing “mom told me to study hard”

How ironic to hear “study hard” from me

I am telling you to study hard because I don’t want to see you defeated

Keep the sweater your mom made you

On Mother’s Day, tell her you’ve kept it all this time

Oh by the way I will see Chou Yun-Fat

So you can boast your dad of the future is the God of Gambling

I cannot find love letters that I wrote from my childhood

Don’t give it away when you are done writing them

Because you will find them on the track and field just after two days

You will start to like pop songs

Because Jackie Chung is getting ready to sing “Kiss Goodbye”

Listen to Your Mom

Don’t break her heart

Grow up fast so you can protect her

Her beautiful white hair is sprouting in happiness

Her angelic magic is growing tender in warmth


Korean indie sensation: Jang Gi-ha and Faces

by homey81


Jang Gi-ha and Faces (장기하와 얼굴들) is the most sensational among Korean pop music in 2008. Not beacuse of catch tune and dancible rhythm with good looks and powerful choreography, but becasue of heart-touching lyrics to young generation and retro-turned-into-fresh rock sound with the attitude of social looser. The music style reminds me of college rock, exactly ‘campus group sound’ in local vernacular (Korean version of New Wave?) such as Sanulim (stand for ‘Mountain Echo’) and Songolmae (stands for ‘Falcon’). If the voice of generation is different in different places,  please leave your comments after enjoying some video clips: Cheap Coffee (live), Let’s Go, the Moon is rising fully

(Joon / Sjon)

Resource: Hong Kong pop website


Again, a great web resource on Hong Kong pop music, called “Hong Kong pop style: English style”. Run by Phil Benson and Alice Chik and supported by Hong Kong Institute of Education, this website is full of resources (interviews and links among others).

Some words from those who run the website:

‘Hong Kong pop: English style’ is a project on the history of popular music performed in English by Hong Kong artists from 1960 up to today. We began the project in summer 2006 and plan produce a book by the end of 2008. For now we have this website to keep you up to date with the project and to archive digital images of pop memorabilia. If you think you can help us to preserve an important slice of Hong Kong’s history, please let us know.