15. Controlling or Supporting?: A History of Cultural Policies on Popular Music


1. “Kiro ŭi hwanghon” (Twilight of Crossroads)

From: Kiro ŭi hwanghon, Okeh 12175, 1938, 78 rpm.

Nam In-su: vocal; Pak Si-ch’un: music; Cho Myŏng-am: lyrics.


This song was banned by the Korea Ethic Committee of Broadcastings in March, 1965. It was banned because the lyricist Cho Myŏng-am defected to North Korea. Nam In-su was one of the popular singers since the 1930’s. Due to its popularity, the song was also included in his hit song collection album.

2. Yi Mi-ja, “Tongbaek agassi” (A Camellia Girl)

From: Tongbaek agassi, Midop’a LM 1200037, 1964, 33 1/3 rpm.

Yi Mi-ja: vocal; Paek Yŏng-ho: music; Han San-do: lyrics.


This is a song featured in the film with the same title “Tongbaek agassi” (A Camellia Girl). It is said that this song was the first music record which sold over a million copies. Due to the song’s wide popularity and huge success, the singer Yi Mi-ja has been considered one of the best singers in Korea. It was banned in 1965 because the music is alleged to have embodied Japanese music style enka, until the ban was lifted in 1987.

3. Chorus, “Saemaŭl norae” (A Song for a New Village)

From: Samaŭlŭi hapch’ang 1: Noraenŭn jŭlgŏwŏ (Chŏn Sŏk-hwan pyŏn), Hit Record HL-PR 7202, 1972, 33 1/3 rpm.

Park Chung Hee: music and lyrics.


President Park Chung Hee composed the tune and the lyrics of this song. Along with the song “Chal sarabose” (Let’s Live Well), this song was widely sung across the country throughout 1970’s and 1980’s. In particular, this song supported the New Village Movement during President Park Chung Hee’s regime. The song displays the manifest of the New Village Movement of the time: that people would work hard in order to make affluent new villages: by shifting their architectural style from a thatched-roofed hutto a Western-style building, and by constructing wide streets.

4. Yang Hŭi-ŭn, “Ach’im isŭl” (Morning Dew)

From: Yang Hŭi-ŭn koun norae moŭm, Universal Record KLS-26, 1971, 33 1/3 rpm.

Yang Hŭi-ŭn: vocal; Kim Min-gi: music and lyrics.



This song was first publicized in 1970 and released in 1971 when the composer Kim Min-gi included the song in his first album. The singer Yang Hŭi-ŭn also included this song in her album. The song is known to have brought her fame. It was banned from 1975 until 1987. This song was also performed by Yang Hŭi-ŭn for the special performance to celebrate President Roh Mu-hyŏn’s presidential inauguration ceremony.

5. Kim Ch’u-ja, “Kŏjitmariya” (That’s a Lie)

From: Golden Hit Album, Sŏngŭm SP-100.001, 1971, 33 3/1 rpm.

Kim Ch’u-ja: vocal; Shin Chung-hyŏn: music and lyrics.


It was released in 1971. Despite its great success, it was banned from 1975 until 1987 due to its decadent mood and style. The singer Kim Ch’u-ja gained her popularity for her sexy image and vocal technique.

6. Psy, “Gangnam Style”

From: Live performance from Hi Seoul Festival presented by Psy, 2012.

Psy: vocal; Psy and Yoo Gun Hyung: music; Psy: lyrics.



This concert was given in 2012 as part of the Hi Seoul Festival. It was held in front of the Seoul City Hall and the Plaza Hotel in Seoul. When he gave this performance, he had already gained unexpected world-wide popularity due to his song, “Gangnam Style.” Thanks to his huge success in the world market, the Hi Seoul Festival was able to draw millions to his live performances.

Psy’s success could enhance and promote the Korean government’s concept of national brand through music commodities.