07. Modern “Folksong” and Minjung Kayo (“Protest Song”)


1. 김민기, “아침이슬”

1. Kim Min-gi, “Ach’imisŭl” (Morning Dew)

From: Kim Min-gi Vol.1, Taedo EU-716, 1990, 33⅓ rpm.

Kim Min-gi: vocal, music & lyrics.



With the song recorded in the legendary debut album, Kim Min-ki became the symbol of Korean modern folk. The song depicts the will of a young man determined to enter into the turbulent world. It is estimated to have been released by Taedo Records in 1971. The recording in the link is one of the reprinted versions by Hyŏndae in 1990.

2. 양병집, “타복네”

2. Yang Pyŏng-chip, “T’abagne”

From: Nŏkturii, Orient/Sung Eum SEL20-0028, 1974, 33⅓ rpm.

Yang Pyŏng-chip, vocal.



Yang Pyŏng-chip, along with Han Tae-su, is known as the one who introduced “folk music” in Korea. His first album is mainly filled with adaptation works of American folk music. “T’abokgne” is the only Korean song in the album. He reinterpreted an orally-transmitted song in the bluesy mood. This song, depicting the longing for his dead mother, has been steadily recovered by other folk musicians such as Sŏ Yu-sŏk, and Yi Yŏn-sil.

3. 조동진, “행복한 사람”

3. Cho Tong-jin, “Haengbokhan saram” (A Happy Person)

From: Cho Dong-chin Vol.1, Daedo DSAP-79001, 1979, 33⅓ rpm.

Cho Tong-chin: vocal, lyrics and music.


Cho Tong-chin is considered the “big brother” of the “underground musicians.” Unlike other singers who made their debuts singing in coffeehouses, Cho began his singer career onstage for the US military camp show. Afterwards, he sang in a group called Shagreen and in a session band called Tongbangŭi Pit (“The Light of the East”), and later made his belated debut with his 1979 album which includes this song and “Kyŏulbi” (Winter Rain).

4. 강인원, “매일 그대와”

4. Kang In-wŏn, “Maeil kŭdaewa” (Every Day with You)

From: Urinorae chŏnsihoe (Our Song Exhibition 1), Seorabeol SRB 0142, 1984, 33⅓ rpm.

Kang In- wŏn: vocal; Choe Sŏng-wŏn: music & lyrics.


The underground music scene in the history of Korean pop music started in the middle of 1980’s. The center of underground music scene were singer-songwriters. This omnibus album can be said as the integrated result of folk and rock music scene in the previous period and the meaningful signal for the upcoming rush of underground music as well. The next year, this song and “Kŭgŏnman i nae sesarng” (That’s the Only World of Mine), written by Choe Sŏng-wŏn, were included in the legendary debut album of the folk-rock band, Tŭlgukhwa.

5. Nocha’ssa (a.k.a. Norae rŭl Ch’annŭn Saram tŭl), “Im ŭl wihan haengjin’gok” (Marching for Our Beloved)

From: Nocha’ssa Vol.3, Seoul Records SPDR-252, 1991, 33⅓ rpm.

Nocha’ssa: vocals; music: Kim Chong-ryul; lyrics: Paek Ki-wan.


This song was originally written in order to remember the victims in the Kwangju Uprising in 1980. Like any other protest song, this song was released via illegal cassette tapes and was oral-transmitted in rallies or demonstrations. The version by Nocha’ssa sounds the most artistic through its sophisticated arrangement.