The Korean independent music genre has witnessed exponential growth during the past two decades. It started from the basements and garages of Hongdae area (an entertainment near Hongik University) gradually expanded its fanbase among younger generation of Koreans. Crying Nut and Deli Spice were among the first bands to gain mainstream recognition in Korean pop culture. Its music dominates the charts and is the music of choice for many primetime Korean dramas. Mainstream Korean music is often produced with regards to maximizing profit, and these companies are capable of sacrificing whatever artistic value that the musician had originally envisioned. While this phenomenon is by no means consistently observable in every element of the Korean music industry, it certainly is a recurring anomaly for idol groups that are attached to large companies such as SM Entertainment. Independent music is –for the lack of a better word – independent from these corporate and financial constraints, and independent artists are free to choose his or her style at his or her discretion.
Independent media owes its growth directly from the development of affordable recording and editing equipment. Only large record companies and filmmakers could afford such equipment. Independent music thrived in the 2000s as a result of the proliferation of home recording equipment, which allowed these artists to record and edit their own music without having to resort to taking their demo tapes to large record companies. This gave rise to new bands, formed in the late 1990s and 2000s such as Nell, Brocolli You Too, Kiha & The Faces, and Autumn Vacation also gained mainstream recognition among an expanded range of genres. These new artists received considerably more media attention, and held regular concerts to keep in touch with their increasing fanbase. This section introduces some of the noteworthy end-of-the-year concerts that are expected to be held this month.
The Oksang Dalbit concert, titled “Good job this year” is scheduled on December 17 to 21 in Olympic Hall of the Sports Complex in Jamsil, Seoul. Each day of the concert is held for a specific audience under different themes. On December 17 and 21, the concert is open to the general audience. The concert on the 19th is for workers, students on the 18th, and families on the 20th. Different posters for the different concert dates have been circulated. The price of each ticket is fixed at 66,000 KRW. Tickets have been open for reservation since November 12 on Interpark.
Oksang Dalbit is female duo band, consisting of Yoon Joo Kim and Se Jin Park. They first appeared in the independent music scene at 2008 in Hongdae. They slowly gained popularity through a series of underground concerts and shows in the area. Eventually, their song, Oksang Dalbit was selected as the orignial soundtrack for Pasta, a famous Korean drama that aired in 2008. While their first album received only a lukewarm response, their second album, 28, was an instant hit upon its release in 2011. The music is different from the prime independent genre in that it lacks the traditional presence of guitars. Instead, they focus on minimalistic sounds consisting of keyboards, melodica, and xylophones. The songwriting philosophy of Oksang Dalbit is to convey warm and cheerful lyrics to its fans. This was the main theme of the first album, and is emphasized in the song “Hardcore Life,” from the first album.
Nell is hosting its annual Christmas in Nell’s Room on December 24. It is Nell’s eighth annual Christmas concert, and is expected to be held in the Seoul Student Gymnasium in Jamsil, Seoul. Tickets are available for reservation at Interpark and prices range from 77,000 to 110,000 KRW. Because the concert is expected to end well after midnight, shuttle buses are available for those who rely on public transportation.
Nell is an independent rock band formed in 1999. It is a significant figurehead of the Korean independent genre because it is the first independent band that not only successfully transitioned into mainstream media, but also gained critical acclaim. The main vocal, Jong Wan Kim composes most of Nell’s songs. Some of its notable songs are Separation Anxiety, Peter Pan has Died, and Separation Anxiety. Perhaps a conceptual antithesis to Oksang Dalbit, the lyrics contained in Nell’s songs are considered to be extremely depressing and moody. The instrumentation consists of conventional sounds of rock and alternative rock, including guitars, drums, and basses.