(6) Going Beyond
To Infinity and Beyond
Sanghun Lee, ASEAN-Korea Centre
So far, we have seen various aspects of the music of Southeast Asia. We have listened to traditional music, seen traditional instruments, and enjoyed the latest pop of many countries of Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, music, similar to a tree, continues to branch out and grow. Likewise, music of Southeast Asia continues to consume other kinds of music and evolve.
The recent surge of K-pop in Southeast Asia is a striking example of this vivacious “life” of Southeast Asian music.
The spread of K-pop’s popularity (called Hallyu in Korea) originates with the singer Han Myeong-Suk. Han, after gaining immense popularity in Korea, began an international career, acquiring fans in not only Japan and Europe, but importantly throughout Southeast Asia. After that, such famous Korean singers as Jeong Hoon-Hui, Lee Seong-Ae, and Jo Yong-Pil constructed the basis for today’s spread of K-pop.
Recently, sensational singers such as BoA, TVXQ, SNSD, Big Bang, and Super Junior have gained immense stratum of fans throughout Southeast Asia. One example that illustrates this clearly is Super Junior. With its “Miina” of its 4th album, the group is keeping its 54th week of continued 1st place in the K-pop chart of Taiwan’s KKBOX.
Other groups like SNSD are gaining popularity through media including Youtube and SNS. SNSD’s music video for “Hoot”, for instance, has gained 10 million hits only within one year of its release on Youtube. Various response videos of Southeast Asian fans covering K-pop dances have also been hot issue in both Korea and Southeast Asia.
As can be seen, K-pop is impacting a growing new branch of music of Southeast Asia. This is, of course, just one aspect of the changing vivacity of the Southeast Asian music, and there are many other indications of the music’s breathing life.
Game music composers, for one, are taking serious interest in the traditional music of Southeast Asia. The background music of Civilization V, has various some music of Southeast Asian streak (although, ironically, some of these are background music of the “Korea” part of the game).
There have also been academic as well as cultural exchanges between countries. Musical exchange between Korea and Vietnam’s national institutions for traditional music, for instance, is bringing breakthroughs in ethnomusical research in both parts.
Music of Southeast Asia is living a vivacious life of frequent cultural and academic exchanges. As always, this series on the music of ASEAN nations end with a hopeful remark: in the near future, not just Southeast Asia but Asia as a whole will achieve its strong identity of music and impact the world.
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