London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Modern Korea Documentary: K-pop Genesis | K pop 창세기

This final documentary in the Modern Korea season is bound to be popular! Bear in mind, however, that if you are expecting a traditional documentary, with an all-knowing presenter or a voiceover that tells a story, be prepared possibly for something different. The first two documentaries in this series have been interesting to watch. They’ve been spliced-together selections of original footage (from assorted clips that might have come from different factual TV programmes) which clearly have been selected and assembled in a particular order for a particular reason, but you have to draw your own conclusions as to what the overarching narrative is.

Modern Korea Documentary: K-pop Genesis | K pop 창세기

Director: Youm Jisun, Leem Jongyoun (2021, 49mins)
Date: Thursday 5 May 2022, 7pm
KCCUK | Grand Buildings | 1-3 Strand | London WC2N 5BW | | [Map]

Tickets: Free | Book via the LKFF website
Includes introduction, talk and Q+A by Dr Haekyung Um

Modern Korea: 1990s K-pop

Through this documentary, we review the history of Korean pop music in the 1980s, along with the stories of the teen musicians, who first experienced the changes in the 1990s when ‘music’ was changed to ‘music industry’.

In the 1980s, the Korean music industry had a pattern of overworking musicians, and when profits were made they would be distributed without proper accounting regulation. Despite this environment, the innovative young musicians of the time endeavoured to make new sounds and performances, and in so doing created Korea’s first generation of electronic music and hip-hop.

These pioneering musicians, equipped with inexpensive MIDI devices popularized in the digital revolution, laid the foundation of K-Pop by creating modern digital beats for the first time. K-pop Genesis explores this musical transformation with lead to the rise of the most popular genre in the world.


This screening will be accompanied by an introduction and presentation about K-Pop history by Dr Haekyung Um, Director of Postgraduate Research and Lecturer in Music at the University of Liverpool. Following the screening, Dr Um will respond to questions from the audience.

Dr Haekyung Um has completed her musical training at Seoul National University and her PhD in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology at Queen’s University Belfast. She specialises in contemporary Asian performing arts with an emphasis on the politics of performance, cultural identity and policy, transnationalism and cosmopolitanism. She has published one monograph, Korean Musical Drama: P’ansori: The Making of Tradition in Modernity (Ashgate, 2013) and two edited volumes, Diasporas and Interculturalism in Asian Performing Arts (Routledge Curzon, 2005) and Rediscovering Traditional Korean Performing Arts (KAMS, 2012). She also published on Korean hip-hop, South Asian music in Britain and Chinese Korean dance drama. She has directed a collaborative research project on K-pop fandom and reception in Europe and is currently preparing a book entitled Asian Pop Music in Cosmopolitan Europe: K-pop Fandom in the Age of Globalisation (Routledge). Her new research project looks at the ways in which Korean TV music reality programmes contribute to the canonisation of Korean popular music and the creation of popular music heritage through performance, mediation and mediatisation.

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