London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

LKL book database logo

Selected publications

  • Booklist: K-pop (19 titles)
    • Shinhwa: My Choice

      (January 2002) My choice is a compilation of the highlights from Shinhwa’s first four albums, and so is a good place to start for those unfamiliar with one of Korea’s popular and longest-lived boy bands. One of the more peculiar numbers is T.O.P. (Twinkling of Paradise), a reinterpretation of a famous Tchaikovsky melody, together with … [Read More]

      Rain #1: Bad Guy

      Rain’s first album displays his vocal qualities (it’s a good voice), and the range of stuff he’s prepared to sing. There’s a problem though. The music isn’t really distinctive. The ballads he sings are the sort of ballads which lots of K-pop stars are singing. The same key-shifts, the same use of that infuriating tingly … [Read More]

      THe ThE Band: 4th album

      Highly listenable-to guitar-based pop / rock. Both electric and acoustic guitars. THe The Band write all their own stuff, so it’s music that suits them. And they have also decided that the first of the H’s in their name should be capitlised. Not that I’m a great expert, but the sound of the band seems … [Read More]

      Rollercoaster # 2: Il Sang Da Ban Sa

      (July 2000) One of those annoying albums where it’s hard to say which track is your favourite. You listen to one and think it’s the best; and then the next track comes along and you change your mind. Probably my least favourite is the repetitive and slightly twee title track which closes the album. Mr … [Read More]

      Loveholic #1: F.L.O.R.I.S.T

      (Fluxus / YBM Seoul Records, April 2003) Loveholic’s debut album is a huge success. Intelligent, tuneful, and varied. Their style is shows a number of influences, including some from the 60s and 70s – I detect hints of Simon & Garfunkel’s 59th Street Bridge Song in the 8th track Come to Visit, some ELO in … [Read More]

      Bada #2: Aurora

      (Released: September 2004) A ridiculously good album. Pop perfection. This is the sort of unpretentious music which has me bopping around the kitchen as I cook. If I were to have a criticism, there’s rather too much synthesizer and computer-generated beats – particularly in the numbers produced by the Japanese team – and not enough … [Read More]

      Clazziquai Project #1: Instant Pig

      (May 2004) A combination of Acid Jazz, electronica and chill-out lounge, with sometimes a flavour of Latin (the fifth track, novabossa, could almost come from an Astrud Gilberto album). The instrumental emphasis is very much on electronic sounds, though some tracks benefit from acoustic guitar. The vocals are always pleasant and relaxed. There’s nothing terribly … [Read More]

      Kangta #3: Persona

      (March 2005) This album is a winner. Some might dismiss it as pure kitsch, standard Korean ballad / R&B fayre, but it’s always just within the bounds of good taste. For those unfamiliar with K-pop stars, Kangta is a solo act which spun off from the now defunct boy band H.O.T. (Highfive of Teenagers) and … [Read More]

      Lee Soo Young #6: The Colors of my Life

      (YIGA Entertainment, 2004) A great ballad album. From the big ballad 휠릴리 (track 4) via the more intimate 너도 그런지.. and Sam Lee’s funk-inspired “You want me” (featuring Eric) to a more R&B 겁쟁이 (track 7), Lee Soo Young shows how it should be done. She has a good team of song-writers — showing that … [Read More]

      The versatile Uhm Jung-hwa (엄정화)

      A rather silly item in the Chosun Ilbo (entitled Singer’s Hotpants Inflame Cyberspace) has alerted me to an actress that I hadn’t really focused on before. She’s been in films that I’ve seen and vaguely registered as quite interesting, or films that I’ve missed and am eager to see. I haven’t heard her sing, and … [Read More]

      Rollercoaster # 1: Come Closer

      Roller Coaster – first album: 내게로 와 (1999) Rollercoaster, according to KBS, were the first Korean band to turn to Acid Jazz. Certainly one of the western bands which comes to mind when listening to this album is the Brand New Heavies. But the use of horn effects and guitar rhythms in some of the … [Read More]

      Yoon Do Hyun: Difference

      I often find myself puzzled by the blurb at YesAsia. The editorial commentary on Yoon Do Hyun’s second solo project, Difference, is stranger than usual. If you haven’t listened to the album, it might seem quite informative if you edit out the superlatives: Yoon Do Hyun, head and vocalist of the K-pop formation Yoon Do … [Read More]

      Ballads dominate K-pop albums in 2006

      I keep an occasional eye on what’s top of the music charts. I’ve been noticing that one or two of the album’s I’ve bought have been appearing there. Whether it’s because I’m at the cutting edge of K-pop I somehow doubt. I just tend to buy the things I come across in the blogosphere because … [Read More]

      Baek Ji-young: Smile again

      (Loen Entertainment, April 2006) It shouldn’t take six playthroughs to enable me to say anything constructive about this album. On first playthrough it made no impression on me whatsoever. Some generic ballad / R&B songs which could come from any of a wide range of Korean artists, and some songs with a Flamenco / Latin … [Read More]

      Bada and the birthrate

      I wish I was in Seoul today. I recently posted about Anna Fifield’s article on Korean family planning, and in particular the government’s plan to spend $30 billion over the next 5 years to try to boost the birthrate. Here’s a story about how some of that $30 billion is going to be spent: a … [Read More]