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K-POP: Roots and Blossoming of Korean Popular Music (Contemporary Korean Arts Series #6) Perfect Paperback – July 2, 2012
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About the Author
Arts Council Korea (ARKO)
ARKO is a state funded non profit organization. The main aim of the Council is to make the arts more central to the lives of the Korean citizens by supporting arts organizations and artists in and abroad through grant-giving services and programs.
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As of the writing of this review, this book is the only book in English that attempts to cover the entire history of Korean pop music, beginning in the 1920s. For a reader who knows absolutely nothing about the history of Korean pop music, this is an okay introduction. But ultimately, the slim 150-page book simply is not up to the task of describing nearly a century of Korean pop music history in adequate detail. Partly, that is because of insufficient number of pages, often filled up with large pictures.
But partly, it is also because of the deliberate choice that the author made: Kim devotes approximately half of the book for the history between 1920s and 1990s, and the other half for 1990s to present, because he focuses more on the smaller definition of K-pop involving the current generation of idol groups. The result is, to me at least, a gross injustice in historical writing. Shin Joong-hyeon, Korea's "godfather of rock" and likely the most important figure in Korean pop music history, is described in two paragraphs--while discussion about the idol groups of the 2000s take up the last one-third of the book.
There are also irritating failures of execution in the book as well. The song's titles are translated without giving the original Korean title in the body of the book. (The book does have an index of songs with Korean script at the end.Read more ›