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Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

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Selected publications

  • Booklist: Trot (6 titles)
    • Shin Seung-tae’s new Trot persona

      When Lee Hee Moon announced the disbandment of his glam rock minyo outfit Ssing Ssing last year, I forewent gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, prophesying instead that an abundance of interesting projects must surely follow. And Lo, it did come to pass. Female vocalist Chu Da-hye started her band, Chudahye and The Chagis … [Read More]

      Film Review: Love, Lies (Park Heung-sik, 2016)

      An historic album made by a hitherto unknown Korean popular music singer from the colonial period is literally unearthed in a modern-day construction site. Miraculously, although the LP is damaged, audio engineers can restore the sound to something like the original, for broadcast on a golden oldies radio show. But who is the singer, and … [Read More]

      Trot music as propaganda against the North

      Six months ago it was girl bands. Now Trot music is supposed to be S.Korea’s best propaganda weapon against the North # “Pop music can be a powerful psychological weapon targeting the oppressed in the North. We should immediately resume tannoy broadcasts in response to the North’s recent provocations,” declared a South Korean lawmaker. … [Read More]

      Yoon Bok-hee comes to Kingston

      Koreans seem to keep some of their favourite stars well hidden from the West. Google singer Yoon Bok-hee in English, and you don’t find much. The Kpopwiki is able to provide a discography but no biography, while the occasional article in the Korea Times mention her only in passing: recently for performing the role of … [Read More]

      LKL Critics’ Choice 2008: Philip

      The last of a series in which regular and guest LKL contributors nominate their CD releases of the year. As Mark Russell notes in his 2008 roundup, we had some good reissues this year. This is great news, as it shows that the Korean music industry is showing some maturity. Why after all should fans … [Read More]

      Patti Kim at 70

      Congratulations to superstar singer Patti Kim on 49 years in the entertainment industry. Kim debuted in March 1959 before the US Eighth Army and has never looked back since. Using non-Western arithmetic, that makes her upcoming concert in Seoul at the end of April 2008 her 50th anniversary. Whatever the mathematics, I for one will … [Read More]

      We Love Kim Soo Hee (she said)

      Two of your regular LKL writers were so taken with Kim Soo Hee’s concert on 26 January that we both felt moved to write about it. Here’s Jennifer‘s take. Kim Soo Hee, we love you! Especially when you make that heart shape with your arms above your head and blow a kiss. Please come back … [Read More]

      We Love Kim Soo Hee (he said)

      Two of your regular LKL writers were so taken with Kim Soo Hee’s concert on 26 January that we both felt moved to write about it. Here’s Philip‘s take. “They turned up this afternoon and asked us where our sound system and lighting was,” confided the House Manager at St John’s Smith Square as I … [Read More]

      Jang Yoon Jung – first album

      (Sony Music, October 2004) Jang Yoon Jung was the first of the younger generation stars to experiment with Trot. Brought out in late 2004, her first album was a hit with older and younger buyers alike, and encouraged other Trot revivalists to have a go. Those who came after were somehow less successful, let down … [Read More]

      Park Hyun Bin #1: Gondre Mandre

      (Released August 2006) Possibly my most disappointing speculative purchase ever, this is the second stop in my journey through the younger generation of artists who appear to be involved with the Trot revival. As with my first encounter, I can’t make the connection between what I’m hearing and what I’m told Trot is all about. … [Read More]

      Super Junior T: Rokkuko

      (Released February 2007) Every now and then in my somewhat random purchases of Korean pop music I hit upon a gem. By the law of averages, every now and then I have to come across a dud. This is one of them. I’ve started investigating Trot, and perversely thought I’d start with its latest reincarnation … [Read More]

      Trot makes a comeback

      To be perfectly accurate, I don’t think Trot ever really went away. Rather, like many trends in popular culture, its fanbase was getting older and there would come a point when no-one was listening to it any more. But when Trot compilations are selling millions through street vendors (see chapter 7 of Keith Howard’s book), … [Read More]