Rock n Roll is Good for the Seoul ;)
Here in South Korea, k-pop pretty much dominates the music scene. It’s mainly what is playing in restaurants and stores (although I have heard some random Pitbull and/or Beyonce thrown in there as well—a Korean coworker told me if it is pop-y and English, it is automatically cool). Korean pop culture in general seems to revolve around being almost sickeningly sweet and cutesy—think of little stuffed pink bunny rabbits with giant eyes turned into song, and you’ve got k-pop. All the male k-pop stars wear make-up; it is not seen as effeminate, because Korean women want their men to be “pretty”. Appearances are very important for both genders, and this shows through the super-stylized, choreographed dance routines, and computerized, barely-human voices. K-pop is fun and dance-y; cute, yet strictly regimented—and this, to me, recalls the overall vibe of South Korea.
Before I arrived here, I liked listening to k-pop sometimes, along with other electronic-y/modern music (the Glass Animals, Oh Wonder, Lana Del Rey…) and this music genre really fits in quite well, I think, to the climate and overall feel of South Korea. Now that I am living here, though, I find my old music has lost some of its appeal—since arriving, I’ve been favoring Stevie Ray Vaughn and Led Zeppelin, Supertramp and Guns N' Roses…which is really about as far away from the vibe of South Korea as you can get. There is just something so deliciously discordant about wandering the streets of Seoul, listening to classic rock from the 60s. Looking back, I realize I’ve always chosen music that is in strict opposition to my immediate surroundings. Stuck in the Midwestern suburbs? Better put on some esoteric, wavy electronica, just to make it weird, am I right? So, am I an iconoclast? Am I simply desperate to be a unique, special snowflake? …I mean, very possibly, but I think it has much more to do with wanting to bring something to life. Listening to a disingenuous genre of music reminds me that the space and time I happen to be occupying is never all that there is, and it offers me a connection, however tenuous, to another space/time--access to a bygone era, if you will. And if I can inhabit 2 separate, discordant spaces at once, I feel larger. I can feel myself expanding to create room for other worlds, and I am greedy for them; I want them all at once. One place is never enough; I want to contain multitudes. For this purpose, travel is the most useful thing: every place I inhabit offers me not only itself, but its opposite as well.
Me and my beary special friend <3 <3 Rock on, Seoul! (I'm not cool...)