05. Trot and Ballad: Popular Genres of Korean Pop


1. 이용, “잊혀진 계절”

1. Yi Yong, “Ichyŏjin kyejŏl” (Forgotten Season)

From: Ichyŏjin kyejŏl / Paramiryŏyo / Kasiwa changmi / Tongch’ŏn, Jigu JLS-1201701, 1982, 33 ⅓ rpm.

Yi Yong: vocal; Yi Pŏm-hŭi: music; Pak Kŏn-ho: lyrics.


It is one of the ballad masterpieces which was co-produced by lyricist Pak Kŏn-ho and composer Yi Pŏm-hŭi in the early 1980’s. With this song, a new singer Yi Yong was awarded the Kasu Wang (King of Singer) of MBC 10 Singers Festivals in 1982 and became a rival of superstar Cho Yong-‘p’il at that time. High-pitched chorus parts became a paragon of the Korean ballad ever since.

2. 전영록, “그대뺨에 흐르는 눈물”

2. Chŏn Yŏng-nok, “Chongihak” (A Paper Crane)

From: Chinagan sijŏrŭi yŏn’ga / Chongihak, Jigu (JLS-1201711), 1982, 33 ⅓ rpm.

Chŏn Yŏng-nok: vocal; Yi Pŏm-hŭi: music; Yi Kŏn-u: lyrics.



It is a ballad hit song of the early 1980’s by Chŏn Yŏng-nok who performed various genres and long lived as a pop-rock star in the 1980’s. Many girl-fans loved this sentimental song which was produced by hitmaker Yi Pŏm-hŭi along with a new lyricist Yi Kŏn-u. It is a typical style of a ballad song by an idol.

3. 이미자, “동백아가씨” (2013 version)

3. Yi Mi-ja, “Tongbaek agassi” (Miss Camellia) (2013 version)

From: Tongbaek agassi, Midopa LM 1200037, 1964, 33 ⅓ rpm.

Yi Mi-cha: vocal; Paek yŏng ho: music; Han San-do: lyrics.


It was a breakthrough song for Yi Mi-ja, a diva in the 1960’s. It also provided comercial success of records industry. It was the theme song of the movie 동백아가씨 (Tangbaek Agassi). With the success of this song, trot became one style of popular music. It represents the mournful mind of a woman who is longing for her beloved through the regular rhythm with a slow tempo and a sad melody.

4. 이문세, “난 아직 모르잖아요”

4. Yi Mun-se, “Nan ajik morŭjanayo” (I Don’t Know Yet)

From: Nan ajik morŭjanayo, King/Seorabeol SBK-0049, 1985, 33 ⅓ rpm.

Yi Mun-se: vocal; Yi Yŏng-hun: music & lyrics.


This song made the ballad a major popular music trend in the mid-to-late 1980’s.The beautiful melody by composer/producer Yi Yŏng-hun and the husky voice of Yi Mun-se blended into perfect harmony, creating lyrical sensation that caused some listeners to think the two artists were like soulmates. The arrangment by two expert musicians Kim Myong-gon and Yi Chŏng-son produced splendid and neat high-quality sound compared to that of other Korean popular music of that time.

5. 신승훈, “보이지 않는 사랑”

5. Sin Sŭng-hun, “Poiji annŭn sarang” (Invisible Love)

From: Line Kihoek DYCD-7002, 1991, compact disc.

Sin Sŭng-hun: vocal, music & lyrics.


It is the title song of the second álbum of pop-atar Sin Sung-hun, who earned the title “emperor of ballad.” It borrows the intro of Beethoven’s “Ich liebe dich” to créate a classical mood, followed by the slim voice of the singer in a minor key melody, which produces a sad atmosphere.