In the past few years, Korean pop music has experienced a global emergence of sorts, gaining attention from all corners of the world. While the magnitude of this increased interest is undeniable, few would be likely to argue that it is primarily about the quality of the music itself, as fashion, image, and accessibility play leading roles in the Korean pop world.
While the nature of the mainstream Korean music industry is not particularly friendly to those who strive to buck the trends, there are in fact many independent Korean artists currently creating fresh, interesting, and unique music. Centered primarily around clubs in Hongdae, Seoul, some of these groups are….
Eastern Sidekick /이스턴 사이드킥
Formed in 2009, Eastern Sidekick are among the most intriguing of current Korean indie groups. Musically they are a guitar-based rock band at the core, but their sound is made unique by their technical adventurousness and eccentric vocals. To date they have released two albums and one EP, the most recent being last year’s “The First”.
Glen Check / 글렌체크
Among the most well-known independent groups outside of Korea, Seoul’s Glen Check formed in 2011 and have been maintaining a rigorous schedule of recording and live performances over the past two years. With a sound that is equal parts rock, early 1980’s new wave, and modern euro-electro, they may very well be the Korean indie group most likely to make a true international breakthrough in the coming years.
The Pony / 포니
Having been active since 2007, the Pony are well-established veterans of the Hongdae music scene. Sonically a grimy blend of early 80’s UK post-punk and noisy power-pop, they are also well known for their high level retro fashion-sense.
With the independent music scene in Korea expanding rapidly, these groups offer but a small snippet of what’s available, so be sure to keep an eye out for show fliers the next time you’re in Hongdae.