Kim Jong Seo, + Love and Peace, at the London Astoria

Details of the rock concert as part of the 2004 London Korean Festival, culled from the Web Archive:

The London Korean Festival Rock Concert

A man of great presence in South Korea rock: KIM Jong Seo
Mythical heroes: Love and Peace

Saturday 22 May 2004, 7pm – 10pm
London Astoria Theatre. Charing Cross Road.

After the end of World War II, one of the ways Korea tested its new found independence by its readiness to taste outside influences. The gradual spread of rock’n’roll was no exception: The initiation into the groove of rock was introduced into Korea by the incongruous route of music performances for the American Forces.

Just like the rest of the world, during the 1960s and 1970s rock was a mantra of cool for rebelling Korean youths but its appeal spread to the general public in the 1980s. Needless to say, Koreans were also not immune to the magnetism of the Beatles.

Love and Peace

Love and Peace

The founding members of Love and Peace (사랑과 평화) were LEE Nam I, CHOI I Cheol, KIM Myung Gon, LEE Gun Soo, LEE Cheol Ho and KIM Tae Hung. In 1978, they released their first album which has since been rated as a work of art by both musicians and critics alike. At the time, this created quite a stir as the audience reaction to the band’s new vibe with their strange sound, rhythm and beat was inevitably strong, to put it mildly. Both listeners and musicians alike would also have been unused to the way the band remixed the trendy with the classical, and then recorded the remix over a rock beat.

In short, they broke the accepted notions of what music should be. Their creativity took ingenious methods including by beating the rhythm out on a bongo with lights as well as making sounds with unusual objects and instruments. Since their debut, Love and Peace have released six albums, albeit with changes to their members; SONG Gui Young (Guitar), LEE Chul Ho (Vocal), LEE Byung Il (Drum), LEE Sung Soo (Bass), LEE Gueon Hui (Keyboard).

At present, they are experimenting with a remix of funk with traditional Korean music. In their latest album, the song “Woman hardly sees” starts with Kkwaengwari, a small Korean metal handy drum, with traditional Korean wind instruments, Taepyeungso and Piri, in the middle of the piece. The band states that: We prefer to play music which feels comfortable and is soulful; moreover, we would like to work creatively to get in touch with our ancient soul. We believe that someday the style will return to what it was in the beginning.

KIM Jong Seo (김종서): The Free Rocker

Kim Jong Seo

The perception of rock music in Korea changed with the release of his first album “The answer you do not have” in 1987. KIM Jong Seo’s contribution was as a challenger and a revolutionist. Until his debut, rock music was not generally accepted in Korea: KIM’s essence was to make the heaviness of rock softer and lighter. His music often has the feel of a ballad despite being based on rock.

Initially, KIM’s preferred choice of listening was for the likes of ABBA not rock but was instantly converted on hearing Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same”, when he became an ardent fan of Led Zep and the Deep Purple. Since then, he has become a dedicated follower of the UK rock scene. He was even renowned by his band members for fashioning his voice after the inimitable Led. At the initial stages of his career, many people tended to be attracted by the clarity of his voice which was fresh and had an edge. He has grown up. Now, he has found his individuality with his own technique, tone and characteristic surpassing a mere pale imitation of Led Zeppelin.

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