5 hidden treasures of K-pop history

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The explosion of the “Harlem Shake” viral videos this month have made us at the Clog nostalgic. For some reason, coordinated group seizures don’t have the same effect as coordinated horse trotting. And as Psy’s “Gangnam Style” falls lower on the U.S. Billboard 100 (48 as of this week), many of us are wondering what’s next: What is K-pop’s next big move?

Last week, the Clog attended a lecture by UC Berkeley sociology professor John Lie that was sponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies and the Center for Korean Studies. Since the ratio of students to faculty was so low, the Clog is here with some of the highlights.

It’s 53 years old.  We’ve loved the music of Elvis Presley, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones since they premiered on the Ed Sullivan Show. But did you know that Ed Sullivan also propelled K-pop’s first big group, The Kim Sisters?  The Kim Sisters were unafraid to jitterbug, jam on the marimba and, importantly, croon in Korean to an English-speaking audience. Take a look.

It was censored.  Korean popular music would change drastically after the 1963 election. Under this new rule by Park Chung Hee, we learned that the government vigilantly censored popular music and apprehended musical artists of all kinds. 

It grew after the Olympics.  Thanks to international attention as a result of Seoul hosting the Olympics, rap music was transplanted to South Korea from the United States in 1988, a gift that would usher in a musical revolution.

It takes over South Korea. Then, something amazing happened: the boy band Seo Taiji and the Boys. Unexpectedly, their music was so popular that it would top South Korea’s music charts for 17 weeks. Suddenly, South Korea had popular music. Watch.

It debuts around the world. In 2000, BoA (Best of Asia and Beat of Angel) debuted in Japan. And South Korean recording studios quickly began to train and coordinate more K-pop groups.

Image Source: KOREA.NET under Creative Commons