Korean rock

Korean rock (Hangul: 한국의 록) is rock music from South Korea.[1] It has roots in American rock, which was imported to South Korea by U.S. soldiers fighting in the Korean War[2][3] and stationing in U.S. military base in South Korea after the war. Around the U.S. military base, local musicians could have opportunities to learn American rock music and perform it on the stage for U.S. soldiers. As the result, many Korean rock bands, called Vocal Band or Group Sound, could start their musical career in 1960s. Under the military administration in 1970s, rock music and its subculture were classified as a depraved youth culture and restricted. After the Korean Fifth Republic, the censorship policies under military government had been abolished and rock music became a mainstream genre in South Korea until end of 1980s. Today, rock music is not a main genre in the music market in South Korea, but it still occupies a big portion of music consumption in South Korea.



Rock music was brought to South Korea in 1950 by U.S. soldiers fighting in the Korean War. After the war ended in 1953, many U.S. soldiers remained in South Korea, stationed on military bases, where local musicians and singers performed.[2] In 1957, South Korea's first rock guitarist Shin Jung-hyeon, debuted on a U.S. military base. Shin Jung-hyeon, who came to be known as South Korea's "Godfather of rock," later said that Korean rock was born on U.S. military bases.[4] One girl group called Kim Sisters debuted on the U.S. military base stage, had practiced their talent and skills, and then started their musical career in United States.


In 1962, Shin Jung-hyeon formed the first Korean rock band, Add4.[4] Soon after, other Korean rock bands, referred to as "Group Sound" musicians, emerged, including HE6, K'okkiri Brothers, and Key Boys, who are best known for their hit song, "Let's Go to the Beach."[5] The group sound musicians of the mid-1960s were heavily influenced by American and British rock from the same era. However, instead of performing exclusively on U.S. military bases, they began to perform for South Korean audiences.[6] The first generation of Korean rock musicians, including Shin Jung-hyeon, started to appear in the 1960s. However, South Korea was suffering from totalitarian military dictatorship and the social atmosphere under Park Chung-hee administration, which was still conservative and closed, hippie culture and rock music, which were representative of youth culture, were merely a target of suppression. In the 1960s, while western countries and Japan were overwhelmed by a new youth culture revolution with rock music, South Korea was far from the fad.[7]


During the 1970s, music was heavily censored by the Park Chung-hee administration. Shin Jung-hyun was imprisoned on drug charges. Han Dae-soo moved to New York in self-exile after two of his albums were banned by the government. The imprisonment of Shin Jung-hyeon slowed the production of Korean rock,[7] but other artists, most notably Sanulrim emerged during the late 1970s, before dance music came to dominate Korean popular music in the 1980s. Nonetheless, since the 1970s, with the spread of phonograph to middle-class families, the distribution of pirated foreign music, and the popularity of playing rock and pop music in music cafe,[6] the number of rock music fans has increased and the foundation of rock music culture has begun to grow. Although there were far more opportunities to listen to western original rock music, the government's censorship was still strict, preventing creative activities from being free.


In the 1980s, popular musical tastes had moved away from rock music. The scene was dominated by heavy metal music, in particular Boohwal, Baekdoosan, and Sinawe, collectively known as the Big 3.[8] The young generation of South Korea who grew up listening to rock music in the early '70s became college students or adults and became the main members of the rock called Group Sound, which led to the craze in the '80s. In 1980, the hard rock band Magma came out at the college song festival and shocked people. Hard rock and heavy metal are also gaining attention in Korea due to the appearance of Magma. Since then, Baekdusan, Boohwal and Sinawe, the bands that represent the 1980s, were also called the Korean Rock Band Trio in the 80s. The song festival also attracted attention from rock bands that would succeed Magma, T-sams in 1987 and Infinite Track in 1988. The 1980s was when rock music came closest to the mainstream of Korean pop music, with rock bands often being at the top of music ranking programs aired by public television and radio. In the 1980s, one of the reasons rock music became more popular than the past was that censorship got somewhat eased compared to the Park Chung-hee administration.

1990s - Now

Rock music was revived in the early 1990s with democratization following the presidency of Roh Tae-woo. As information flowed more freely into the country, Korean youths were exposed to decades of popular foreign music in a short span of time, and some began to form bands.[9] Two of the earliest bands were Crying Nut and No Brain, which introduced the country to a variety of new genres in a localized blend called "Chosun Punk," spearheaded by indie label Drug Records which also managed Club Drug. With increased globalization and access to the Internet, the music scene diversified and incorporated more styles of music. The late 1990s saw increasing diversity in musical influences, as younger bands like Rux emerged and The Geeks introduced Korea to straight edge hardcore punk. Ska-punk was another strong early influence, producing bands including Lazybone and Beach Valley. In 2006, Skasucks formed and led the ska-punk movement in Korea.

Korean rock festivals




See also


  1. ^ "한국의 록" [Korean rock]. Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  2. ^ a b Kallen, Stuart A. (2014). K-Pop: Korea’s Musical Explosion. Twenty-First Century Books. pp. 5–8. ISBN 1467725498.
  3. ^ Kim, Pil Ho (2016). "Korean Rock's Journey From Group Sound to Indie Punk". In Shin, Hyunjoon; Lee, Seung-Ah (eds.). Made in Korea: Studies in Popular Music. Taylor & Francis. pp. 71–82. ISBN 131764574X.
  4. ^ a b Jackson, Julie (2012-11-08). "'Godfather of rock' unplugged". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  5. ^ "키 보이스 소개" [Key Boys profile]. Mnet (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  6. ^ a b Fuhr, Michael (2015). Globalization and Popular Music in South Korea: Sounding Out K-Pop. Routledge. ISBN 1317556909.
  7. ^ a b Kim, Shin, Pil-ho, Hyunjoon (2010). The Birth of "Rok" Cultural Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Glocalization of Rock Music in South Korea, 1964–1975. Duke University Press.
  8. ^ "Discovering Korean Metal: A Rocky Road". Seoul Beats. 7 June 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  9. ^ Dunbar, Jon (22 February 2013). "Stephen Epstein: Korea's indie rock scholar". Korea.net. Retrieved 18 February 2014.

Bursters (Hangul: 버스터즈, formerly known as Burstered (버스터리드)) is a South Korean boy band under Evermore Music. The group first appeared on Superstar K6. They released their debut album, Live In Hope, on April 16, 2017.

Choi Jong-hoon

Choi Jong-hoon (Hangul: 최종훈, pronounced [tɕʰø dʑoŋɦuːn]; born March 7, 1990) is a retired South Korean musician and actor. He served as the leader, guitarist, and keyboardist of rock band F.T. Island from its debut in 2007 until his retirement from the entertainment industry in 2019.

On March 14, 2019, Choi retired from the entertainment industry, amidst allegations of being involved in bribery and sharing of illicit sex videos and pictures, a part of the Burning Sun scandal.


DickPunks (Korean: 딕펑스) is a rock band based in South Korea, consisting of four members. The band was formed in November 2006, without a guitarist because the keyboard player, Hyun-Woo, wanted the band to be considered a piano-driven ensemble. Hyun-Woo formed the band by recruiting his friends as members. The band has maintained the original line-up since its creation and is currently managed by the TNC Company.Though DickPunks was one of many bands in Hongdae, they were popular amongst their critics and often called "Hongdae Idol". Wanting to expand their fan base, DickPunks decided to participate in Superstar K4. They finished the competition in second place in November 2012.All of the band's members are credited with composing and producing their music. In addition to their live performances, they also perform a separate choreographed act entitled the DICKPUNKSHOW.

Jae Park

Park Jae-hyung (Korean: 박제형; born September 15, 1992), better known as Jae, is a Korean American musician, singer, songwriter, rapper and composer best known as a vocalist and electric guitarist of South Korean rock band Day6. Prior to joining Day6, he gained attention in South Korea as one of the final six finalists of the first season of the singing competition television series K-pop Star.

Jung Joon-young

Jung Joon-young (born February 21, 1989) is a former South Korean singer-songwriter, radio DJ, host, actor and television personality. He first gained recognition in Mnet's reality television talent show, Superstar K4 (2012), where he finished third place. In 2013, he became the youngest member of KBS's variety show 2 Days & 1 Night Season 3. He hosted his own radio program titled MBC FM's Jung Joon-young's Simsimtapa (2014) and made his big screen debut in Love Forecast (2015). From 2015 to March 2019, Jung was the lead vocalist of rock band Drug Restaurant, previously known as JJY Band, releasing their first album "Escape to Hangover" in May 2015.Since his official debut with the release of 1st Mini Album in October 2013, Jung has won the "New Male Solo Artist" award for its title track "이별 10분전 (The Sense of an Ending)" at the 3rd Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards. He then released the self-produced 2nd mini album, Teenager, which contained six self-composed tracks on June 26, 2014. Jung had his Taiwan fan meeting in 2013 and followed it with his first overseas showcase in Taipei in July 2014. He performed the self-written "하루만 (I’m Nobody)" at the Pretty Man OST Japan Concert in July 2014. He held a concert tour in China in November 2014 and performed in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai. Jung made his American concert debut during K-CON 2014 as a performer and host.In March 2019, Jung retired from the entertainment industry, as a part of the Burning Sun scandal, admitting that he had "filmed women without their consent and shared it in a chatroom". This was amidst allegations of him having secretly filmed his own sex videos and then shared them with friends.

Kim Chang-wan

Kim Chang Wan (born February 22, 1954) is a South Korean rock singer, composer, musician, actor, TV host, radio DJ, writer, and poet.

Kim Jong-seo (musician)

Kim Jong-Seo (김종서) is a veteran South Korean rock musician. He first appeared in 1985 as part of the band Boohwal. After Boohwal, Kim Jong-Seo was part of several rock bands, among others: Sinawe, Charisma (카리스마), and Little Sky (작은 하늘). He started going solo in 1992 with his first album titled "Rethona." He contributed to the first, second and fourth albums by Seo Taiji and Boys.

He has released 19 solo albums up to now, and is currently active as Seoul's Ambassador for Environment. His latest single, "Star's Story" (별 이야기) talks about how we used to be able to see stars at night, but not anymore in big cities. Through this song which was jointly produced with another former member of Buhwal, he calls for people to return the clean environment to our next generation. He was also invited to perform in United Nations Anniversary on 23 June 2009 in New York.

Kim Tae-won

Kim Tae-won (김태원, April 12, 1965) is a Korean guitarist with over 30 years of experience in Korean music industry, currently leading one of the most successful rock bands in Korean music history, Boohwal. His life was dramatised in a four episode KBS2 short series Rock, Rock, Rock, where Kim was portrayed by musician-actor No Minwoo.

Lee Jong-hyun

Lee Jong-hyun (May 15, 1990) is a South Korean musician, singer-songwriter and actor. He is the lead guitarist and vocalist of South Korean rock band CNBLUE.

He made his acting debut in an omnibus movie Acoustic in 2010, followed by his television debut in the Korean drama A Gentleman's Dignity in 2012. He appeared in television dramas Orange Marmalade (2015), Lingerie Girls’ Generation (2017) and Evergreen (2018).

Lee Soo-man

Lee Soo-man is a South Korean record producer and executive best known as the founder of SM Entertainment, a global entertainment company based in Seoul, South Korea. He has also been referred to as the president of culture, as he was a pioneer of the Korean Wave. Lee made his debut as a singer in 1971, while he was a student at Seoul National University. He founded SM Entertainment in 1989, which is now one of the largest record label and management companies in South Korea.

List of music festivals in South Korea

The following is a list of music festivals in South Korea. This list may have overlap with list of music festivals and festivals of Korea. Music festivals in South Korea may focus on Korean musicians or international musicians, and may be either in a concert or music competition format, or both. South Korea has folk festivals incorporating Korean traditional music, which includes combinations of the folk, vocal, religious and Korean ritual music styles of the Korean people, practiced since prehistoric times. Music of South Korea in contemporary times incorporates diverse genres, and South Korea has many ongoing rock festivals dedicated to pop music, Korean rock, and K-pop.


Norazo (hangul: 노라조) is a musical male duo from South Korea, known for their eccentric stages and comical lyrics. The two original members were Jo Bin and Lee Hyuk. They were also participants in the musical variety show, Immortal Songs. The duo debuted in 2005. After Lee Hyuk's departure from the group vocalist Won Heum joined as the new member.

Seo Taiji

Jung Hyun-Chul (hangul: 정현철; born February 21, 1972), better known as Seo Taiji or Seo Tae-Ji (서태지), is a South Korean singer, musician, songwriter and record producer. After dropping out of high school to pursue a music career, he has risen to become one of the most prominent and influential cultural icons in South Korea, with many referring to him as "the President of Culture".Following a brief stint in the heavy metal band Sinawe, Taiji formed Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 with whom he found immediate success. They introduced incorporating elements of popular musical genres from the West and contributed considerably larger to Korean pop culture and Korean pop's development in the 1990s. Although he initially announced retirement upon disbanding the group in 1996, Taiji released his first solo album two years later and continued his successful career.

Shin Jung-hyeon

Shin Jung-hyeon Or Shin Joong-hyun; (Hangul: 신중현; Hanja: 申重鉉, pronounced [ɕind͡ʑuŋçʌn] or [ɕin] [t͡ɕuŋçʌn]; born January 4, 1938) is a South Korean rock guitarist and singer-songwriter often referred to as Korea's "Godfather of Rock." A pioneer of Korean rock music, Shin is known for forming South Korea's first rock band, Add4, in 1962 and for being at the forefront of the country's psychedelic rock scene of the 1960s and 1970s. He wrote his most famous song, "Beautiful Rivers and Mountains," in protest of the military dictatorship of Park Chung-hee in 1972. Shin was later imprisoned and tortured by Park's regime, and his music was banned until the 1980s. He experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1990s and has since received numerous accolades recognizing his contributions to South Korean popular music.

Song Seung-hyun

Song Seung-hyun (Hangul: 송승현; Hanja: 宋承炫; Japanese:ソン•スンヒョン born 21 August 1992) is a South Korean musician and actor. He is a member of rock band F.T. Island, where he serves as the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is the newest member after replacing Oh Won Bin. He is the second youngest member of the group after Choi Min-hwan.


TraxX (Hangul: 트랙스; RR: teulaegseu, formerly known as The TRAX and TRAX), is a South Korean EDM duo consisting of Jay and Jungmo.

Originally a four-member rock band formed by SM Entertainment and X Japan's co-founder Yoshiki

in 2004, the band was initially composed of the members: Typhoon Jay (leader and vocals), Rose Minwoo (drums), Attack Jungwoo (bass), and Xmas Jungmo (guitar). Their name is an acronym of "Typhoon Rose Attack Xmas", which also used as the members stage name. In the period of 2006 and 2007, No Min-woo and Jungwoo left the group. This resulted in the band becoming a duo with remaining members Jay and Jungmo, with changes in their band name from The TRAX to be simply name TRAX. The duo kicked off with the release of the EPs Cold-Hearted Man (2010), Oh! My Goddess (2010), and Blind (2011). Thereafter, the members went into individual activities, with Jay pursuing acting and Jungmo collaborating with several artists. On March 26, 2018, TRAX changed their name to TraxX with DJ and producer GINJO joining the group and changing their music genre from rock to electronic dance music. TraxX left SM Entertainment in April 2019 as a duo.

Yim Jae-beom

Yim Jae-beom (Hangul: 임재범; Hanja: 任宰範; also spelled Yim Jae-bum; born October 14, 1962) is a South Korean rock ballad singer who is widely regarded as one of South Korea's best vocalists. He debuted in 1986 as the vocalist for the heavy metal band Sinawe. After recording with other bands, including Asiana and Rock in Korea, Yim released his first solo album in 1991.

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