17. Asia and Beyond: Circulation and Reception of Korean Popular Music Outside of Korea

SUNHEE KOO and SANG-YEON LOISE SUNG


1. Kim Chŏng-gu, “Nunmul chŏjŭn Tumangang” (River Tuman Drenched with Tears)

From: Nunmul chŏjŭn Tumangang, Okeh Record 12094, 1938.

Kim Chŏng-ku: vocal; Yi Si-u: music; Kim Yong-ho: lyrics.

Lyrics

This song was one of the most representative Korean hit songs which were popular in northeast China in the 1930’s. It has been known that the song speaks of a couple’s separation at the Tuman (Tumen in Chinese) River, which forms the border between China and Korea. The song was composed by Yi Si-u, who was inspired by the true story of a couple who separated when the husband left his family to participate in the Korean independence movement in Northeast China and died after being arrested by the Japanese imperial army. Yi heard the story when his troupe visited Longjing (Yongjŏng), where many diasporic Koreans lived at the time. After his return to Korea, this song was released with singer Kim Chŏng-ku (1916–98).


2. Grace Amemiya, “Arirang” (in Japanese)

From: The Song of Arirang, Columbia Record 2212374, 1951, 78 rpm.

Grace Amemiya: vocal; Raymond Hattori: arrangement.

Lyrics

“Arirang” is a famous Korean folksong which has been known with numerous different regional versions. The most internationally famous and popular “Arirang” has been the “Kyŏnggi (or Ponjo) Arirang” which led to the issue of more than fifty versions by Japanese recording companies. From the 1930’s, several famous Japanese singers recorded “Arirang” both in Korean and in Japanese. The current version was released in 1951, which is sung by Japanese singer Grace Amemiya.


3. Clone, “K’ungttari syabara”

From: Are you ready? Rain Ŭmhyang LC-1015, 1996, compact disc.

Kim Chang Hwan: music & lyrics; CLON (Ku Chun-yŏp, Kang Wŏn-rae): vocal.

Lyrics

“Kkung-tta-ri sya-ba-ra” is one of the most representative songs from CLON’s collection which gained high popularity in South Korea and Taiwan. CLON was a Korean pop male duet who was popular in Taiwan since the end of 1990’s. Since the Rock Music Taiwan took a chance on promoting the South Korean duo CLON and had with great success, CLON set a record for the highest sales rate in Taiwan, selling more than 40,000 CDs.


4. Super Junior, “Sorry Sorry”

From: Super Junior 3rd Album, SM Entertainment SMCD-179, 2009, compact disc.

Han’gyŏng: vocal; Yesŏng: vocal; Kangin: vocal; Sindong: vocal; Sŏngmin: vocal; Tongae: vocal; Ŭnhyŏk: vocal; Siwŏn: vocal; Yŏuk: vocal; Kibŏm: vocal; It’ŭk: vocal.

Lyrics

In 2009, the South Korean male idol group Super Junior’s song “Sorry, Sorry” became tremendously popular in the Mandarin-speaking region, and remains its prestige for a record-breaking 37 weeks in Taiwan’s K-pop singles chart. Later that year, it achieved Internet fame in a YouTube video showing inmates in a Philippine prison dancing to it; that video soon garnered more than 4.6 million hits.