Many pop stars, regardless of the genre they're in now, have memories of the head-banging good old days when rock and roll was their lives. Even pretty-faced boy band stars, who have little or no appeal to rock enthusiasts, often brag that they once played rock music when they were students, as if to suggest that they meant to be rock musicians, if only things had turned out better.
Whether or not their claims are true, it is hard to deny that rock music has never been a mainstream in the local pop music market, which has long been dominated by standard ballade and dance music, despite the cult-like status the music has achieved with a great number of would-be singers.
"Koreans seem to have an emotional allergy to rock music", deplored Yoon Do-hyun
, 35, the lead vocalist for the rock band YB, which is short for its original name, the Yoon Do-hyun
Band, in an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday. "Maybe we are too sophisticated deep inside, having too many sad stories untold, to yell out our thoughts", Yoon continued.
With this year marking the 10th year anniversary of the birth of his band, he and the rest of the band members -- Park Tae-hee
(bass), Kim Jin-won
(drums) and Heo Jun-I
(guitar) -- will start a special concert tour, "After 10 Years", on Oct. 6, which will include performances in some 20 different cities all around the country. In the Western world, there are many famous rock bands that are twice, or even three times, older than YB, but in this country, where rock music is considered for one's youth, not career, being dedicated to rock music for 10 years is very exceptional. "Singers, as well as fans, seem to have a mindset that a certain kind of music is not for a certain age group", he added. Yoon also pointed out that television music programs, designed mostly to appeal to the fans of "teen music", keep people away from rock music.
As it was for other rock musicians, YB's music was once branded as improper by television broadcasters just because the group insisted on playing live. What made them the country's rock icons was the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup soccer finals, during which their song, "Oh Pilseung Korea (Oh Victory Korea)", became the ubiquitous pep song for the Korean national team. "It was what every Korean rock musician must dream about. I mean, you know, performing before that many audiences, not inside a gymnasium but in the vast open-air square", Park Tae-hee
, 38, the bassist, recollected. "It is true that more public attention was paid to us because of the World Cup", added Kim Jin-won
, 37, the drummer.
Yoon, however, confesses that their performance in Pyongyang, which was followed by the World Cup in the same year, was the most unforgettable performance he has ever had. "I had never shed tears onstage until then, but I was emotionally overwhelmed when the North Korean audiences sang "Arirang" together with us at the end of the concert, swaying from side to side", Yoon said. The band was joined onstage by singers such as Choi Jin-hee and Lee Mi-ja-I. "I'm in favor of the reunification, and the only reason is that there are families separated in the two Koreas".
With Yoon, as the leader of the band named after himself, getting most of public and media attention, other members might feel left out, but they said they don't. "I appreciate Yoon for his versatility. His passion and energy never seem to wane", Kim said.
The upcoming concert tour kicking off at the Oulim Theater in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province will continue for five months until February, featuring the former members of the band, as well as such popular punk rock bands as Crying Nut and NoBrain. "We will be a rock band for a very long time. I'm so happy to see our fans who were teenagers 10 years ago, and have grown up to become whatever they had long aspired for", Park said.
For more information about the tour schedule and ticket prices, call (02) 323-3704.
By Lee Yong-sung