Korean Heavy Metal Culture 국민리뷰 보기


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Korean Heavy Metal Culture


Ilmo Ilkka                                                         
Guest Reporter


Korea’s Disordered Ones
Had enough of K-Pop with its chirpy happy-go-lucky attitude? Don’t want to go to yet another live-show to watch picture perfect, auto-tuned men and women? Then, polish those devil’s horns, because while it might take a little searching, the Korean metal-scene is here and ready to offer a mind-boggling array of different styles!
If you are a dedicated metal or a punk-head, the music on offer in Korea can seem like a scene from your personal hell. The gargantuan and immensely lucrative industry of K-Pop seems to churn out almost identical songs, artists, and groups in a pace which reminds a machine-gun set on automatic.
Getting into the metal-scene that offers the grimy, passionate, and the-bang-your-head-until-it-flies-off kind of music can seem frustrating at first. Then, why is the metal-scene not as big as in Japan or even China here in the former hermit-kingdom? This is partly due to the young age of and the social stigma associated with metal and punk in South-Korea.
Maybe it also has to do with the strict hierarchical philosophy of Confucianism that is still evident in the country and culture. This philosophy, focusing on the social roles, tradition, and the respect for one’s elders is in opposition to the mentality represented by punk and heavy-metal.

From dictators to full-on metal
Another reason might be found by looking at country’s past. Korea is a young democracy, with the dictatorial rule ending recently in 1987. The various dictators viewed these genres of music as being corruptive and disruptive to the prevalent status quo, thus limiting the people’s opportunities to participate in and enjoy them.
After the end of Doo-Hwan Chun’s despotic rule, however, the number of bands exploded with many people considering Sinawe and Baekdoosan to be the first Korean metal bands usually described as being representatives of “traditional metal.”
The Korean metal-scene is not immune to the influences of global trends, and the local bands reflect the trends but add their own unique spin. A case in point, Remnants of the Fallen reflects the long-established genre of melodic death metal, but adds to it their own personal touch.  This results in songs that are not only technically good which go straight to your lizard brain, making you want to join the mosh-pit head first, taking all those frustrations, we are encumbered with in today’s society, and releasing them in a pure primordial, raw moment.
 Guitarist Jae-Won Lee, and vocalist Bin Park realize the small metal-scene and its constraints. However, that does not stop them from delivering an off-the-wall show.
“Even though metal is attractive, there are only a few listeners. I think it is because of a lack of opportunities to listen to it. Also, while K-pop is getting bigger and bigger, the metal scene suffers.” Park, says.
“People normally only listen to pop-music, so people have this fixed idea about metal” continues Lee, and goes on to say that some Koreans still see metal-heads as somewhat weird.
Live-shows are an important part of the scene, and the band has had a few memorable ones. Park says that being energetic on stage is one of the ways to make the scene bigger.
“We are always trying to convey a strong sense of energy to the audience, so we are always  exhausted after a show. But we can do this at every show because the fans are so crazy and energetic” he explains.
“I remember we were playing at Busan Rock Festival last summer. It was insanely hot and full of insane people. After the show, I felt like dying, but I was still happy about our performance.” Lee reminisces.
 


ilmo.ilkka@uta.fi


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