London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

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Selected publications

  • Booklist: K-pop (19 titles)
    • Uhm Jung-hwa #9: Prestige

      Uhm Jung-hwa: Prestige (2006) After all the high jinks required to get this album off the ground, my expectations of the music to be enjoyed therein were low. They were triumphantly met. There’s nothing terribly objectionable about anything on this album, but then there’s nothing terribly arresting either. The thing which most sticks in the … [Read More]

      SoundDay in Hongdae

      I’m glad no-one volunteered to chaparone me round the music clubs of the Hongdae area last night. I wouldn’t have had half so much fun. For starters, if you’re with someone else or with a group of people, you have to go at the speed of the most vocal or you probably end up staying … [Read More]

      The London Korean Links Awards 2006

      In the year-end spirit of reviewing the highlights and lowlights of 2006, here are the winners of the first LKL Awards – a personal and unscientific selection. The awards are in the following categories: Man of the Year Woman of the Year Best cultural promotion: Briton in Korea Best cultural promotion: Korean in Britain Best … [Read More]

      Chosun Ilbo’s top K-pop of the year

      Here’s their list: Best Album Best Song 1 Vibe: Re-feel Vibe: He & She (equal with Lee Sung-chul) 2 Lee Seung-chul: Reflections of Sound Lee Seung-chul: Shout it out (equal with Vibe) 3 SG Wannabe: 3rd Masterpiece Baek Ji-young: I won’t fall in love again 4 Nell: Healing Process Eru: Black Glasses 5 Sung Si-kyung: … [Read More]

      For your daily dose of celebrity gossip…

      As I’ve mentioned before in my periodic reviews of my wesbite’s statistics, celebrities are a big generator of traffic. Lee Sabi continues to be the most searched-for celeb which results in my site being hit, and the Celebs category seems to be the most popular. Readers will have gathered that, yes, every once in a … [Read More]

      Freestyle #3

      (July 2004) Primarily for rap-lovers. Strangely, 5 out of the 14 tracks have no musical content whatsoever, being recordings of one end of a phone conversation. Not understanding Korean, I don’t know whether there is any deep significance in these tracks. The first four tracks I can happily live without. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, … [Read More]

      BoA #5: Girls on top

      (2005) BoA’s 5th Korean album is leagues ahead of her 2nd, (No 1). Since then, she’s worked on her voice, and her managers have hired some decent songwriters and pushed the music in a more international direction. Let’s get the final track, 가을 편지, out of the way first, as it’s atypical. It comes as … [Read More]

      BoA #2: No.1

      (January 2002) With the emphasis on electronic sounds rather than compositional inspiration, this is not a recommendable album. The robotic drum machine, brainless key shifts and silly noises do not make for engaging listening. BoA’s voice is nothing remarkable, a bit nasal – though not unpleasant. Perhaps the video is worth watching, but I’m not … [Read More]

      Loveholic #3: Nice Dream

      (Fluxus / Seoul Records, April 2006) Loveholic’s 3rd is another great CD, full of good tunes, well arranged, and well sung by the excellent Ji-sun. She has a pleasing, breathy top end to her voice, a nice casual mid-range, but she is also capable of some ballsy rock chick bottom notes. The band that Loveholic … [Read More]

      Rollercoaster # 4: Sunsick

      (March 2004) A glorious mix of acid jazz, funk, fusion and latin. The latin element is new to this album. The fact that Tyle Brule, the FT’s dude in the fast lane, has it on his iPod, adds to its street cred. Brule’s been living with the album since the end of 2004 and still … [Read More]

      Humming Urban Stereo: Purple Drop

      Humming Urban Stereo combine acid jazz and lounge music, with some Latin / bossa nova rhythms. The sound is largely electronic – rhythms are programmed, and there are lots of fun synthesized effects. The music is written, arranged and programmed by the band’s leader, Lee Jeereen. It’s slick, polished and in the end a little … [Read More]

      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]