Summer 2004

• From the President
• Note from the Editor
• Minutes of the 2003 AKMR Meeting
• Annual APSE International Conference: Asian Traditions in the 21stCentury
• SEM 2003 Paper Abstracts
• AKMR Information

YouYoung Kang, Editor
Music Department
Scripps College
1030 Columbia Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711

From the President

I would like to begin this column by expressing my deep gratitude and sense of pride in the amount and quality of work provided by AKMR members to the Annual Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology held recently in Miami, Florida. The number of panels and individual papers on Korea or Korea-related topics (see attached proposals elsewhere in this Newsletter) was quite astounding, as was the attendance at our AKMR business meeting. Our presence was in fact so widespread that on numerous occasions, often completely without prompting, I heard such remarks as “Don’t there seem to be a disproportionate number of papers on Korea this year?”, or “Korean music must be the hot topic these days,” or even “Is Korean ethnomusicology taking over?” (without any implied sinister tone!). At the risk of being overly dramatic, I did have that intangible but very real sense that Korean music has reached a new level of appreciation, understanding, and perhaps even envy at the broader ethnomusicological level. The numerous Korean drumming groups that have sprouted throughout the U.S. (and Canada and Europe to a lesser extent) certainly contribute to this phenomenon, but it is the high level and vigorous activity of research — the primary focus of our Association — that I believe accounts for most of this increased attention. I highlight as examples all three issues of volume 47 (2003) of the journal Ethnomusicology which featured an article by a member of AKMR (a convergence that will probably never happen again), the inclusion of Korean theoretical issues in the introductory volume of the new Global Music Series of Oxford University Press (Wade 2004), and the large yet growing number of students in graduate programs studying Korean music.

An especially important issue brought up in the business meeting in Miami was the current state of our AKMR website. With great pleasure I was able to announce that our current Website Manager, Robert Provine, had generously made the donation for a new web address that will simplify matters considerably — in the near future one need only type in <>. Needless to say, the Association is tremendously pleased with this further gesture of dedication on Rob’s part. It was also announced, however, that Rob will be stepping down from the manager position, which will require the following two points of action:

1)   I am beginning  to solicit self-nominations for a new website manager, an official officer position in AKMR. Ideally this individual has some web design experience with easy access to computing to regularly update the site. In the beginning we anticipate a bit more work because of the transferring of files from Rob to the new manager. I would like to stress that such a position not only helps the Association in a crucial and central way, but that it would also be attractive on a resume, particularly as many colleges and universities have begun to employ “regular” faculty members to operate and maintain their own departmental or school sites (due to financial cutbacks and streamlining).

2)   I ask that members please email me ( with suggestions for what they want to see on the website. Items suggested at the business meeting included a member list with contact email addresses and a few topic words describing their affiliation(s) and research interests, a section describing major genres of Korean music for educators who regularly visit the site, an internet discussion list potentially moderated by Robert Provine, and an updated bibliography with a much more regular cycle of submissions from members. Further suggestions and advice are greatly welcome.

While perhaps premature, I wanted to end this message from the President with a heartfelt “thank you” to Rob Provine for his numerous contributions to the Association in a variety of capacities, but especially here for his ongoing work with the website, a job extremely well done.

Best wishes,

Nathan Hesselink
Normal, Illinois
May 2004

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Note from the Editor

I sincerely apologize for the lack of a Newsletter during the past year.  This Summer 2004 edition of the covers the 2003 AKMR Meeting in Miami.  The next newsletter, expected in October 2004, will be my last one as the Newsletter Editor for AKMR.  If you are interested in the job and would like more information, please contact me by email: 

In the meantime, please send me news of your publications and activities - it would be great to hear from all AKMR members!  I will also include paper abstracts for the SEM 2004 conference in Tucson in the Fall Newsletter.


YouYoung Kang

June 2004

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2003 AKMR Meeting Minutes

Crandon Room of The Hotel Inter-Continental, Miami, Florida

Friday, October 3, 2003, 12:30 pm

The meeting was called to order by President Nathan Hesselink.

Keith Howard made an announcement that Prof. Yi Sungchun passed away.  The announcement was followed by a moment of silence.

Heather Willoughby was re-elected as Member-at-Large (odd year).

Secretary/Treasurer's Report by Okon Hwang: Financial report from September 25, 2002 to October 2, 2003

* Income: membership dues $210 + dividend $42.48

($9.09 on 9/30/02 + $10.40 on 1/1/03 + $8.56 on 3/31/03 + $7.74 on 6/30/03 + $6.69 on 9/30/03) = $252.48

* Expense: $50 for AKMR Award to Paul Yoon + $74.39 for Fall 2002 Newsletter + $56.26 for Spring 2003 Newsletter = $180.65

* Balance: $1536.01 as of 10/2/03

The AKMR Prize for the most distinguished student paper on Korean music presented at the 2002 SEM annual meeting was awarded to Donna Kwon.

After a lengthy discussion, the AKMR Prize guidelines were modified.  From now on, students can submit their entries no later than two weeks after the end of the SEM conference.  Also, students must submit only four, not six, copies of the paper.

Heather Willoughby will chair the AKMR Prize selection committee for the papers presented at the 2003 SEM annual meeting.

The President announced that Former President Robert Provine arranged (and paid) for AKMR to have a new web-site address: .  The President thanked Prof. Provine for his effort and generosity.

A Website Manager position was added to the current body of AKMR officers.  Therefore AKMR officers are now comprised of President (currently Nathan Hesslink), 3 Members-at-Large (currently Heather Willoughby, Hillary Finchum-Sung, Paul Yoon), Newsletter Editor (currently YouYoung Kang), Website Manager, and Secretary/Treasurer (currently Okon Hwang). 

Byungwon Lee reminded AKMR members of the Lee Hye-gu Award ($3,000).  A candidate should be no older than 45 years old and should submit a publication published within the last two years.

The award amount for the AKMR Prize will be raised to $75.  The new amount will be awarded next year for this year's paper.

Respectfully submitted,

Okon Hwang

Khmer Culture Association 

In Association with The Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology (APSE) and 

The Paññasastra University Announces:

The 9th International Conference of the Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology

Asian Traditions in the 21st Century: Future Trends and Directions

August 24 –27 ,2004  

Paññasastra University

144 Norodom Boulevard

Phnom Penh


Tel : (855) 23–990-680

Email :

The following issues will be highlighted :  Cultural Policies, Cultural Preservation, Cultural Tourism, Culture and Arts in the Context of Economic Development, Ethnomusicological Theories Revisited, Globalizing Ethnomusicology, Newly Found Theories in Ethnomusicology, Transmission of Culture and Arts  

Conference Registration and Hotel Reservation

The Khmer Culture Association now accepts pre-registration of US $120 for the 9th International Conference of the Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology.  The registration fees include conference package, attendance, and meals (lunches and dinners) from August 24-27, 2004.  Participants with a valid registration will receive a conference package at the hotel during the opening reception (August 23, 2004) or at the conference venue on the opening day (August 24, 2004)), which includes conference materials, useful information about Cambodia, nametag, and meal tickets, etc.  The registration fees will be collected on site.  You do not need to send any money to us now.

Participants will be staying at the Phnom Penh Hotel located at the center of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

Phnom Penh Hotel

53 Monivong Boulevard

Phnom Penh


Tel: (855) 23-991-868, Fax: (855) 23-991-818

E-mail:, Website:

Room Rates (including breakfast):

Single:  US$45/night

Double: US$50/night

Extra bed: US$15/night

To secure the above group rates, please direct your conference pre-registration and hotel reservation to Dr. Sam-Ang Sam at:

5008 Columbia Pike, #5

Arlington, VA 22204


Tel: (703) 671-6197


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SEM 2003 Paper Abstracts

Finding the 'Flow’: The Ryu Canon and New Ryu
Susie Lim (UC Berkeley)

The placement of sanjo (solo instrumental genre) into the academy in 1959 changed the practice of Korean instrumental music forever.  Lifted from its low association with the kisaeng (women entertainers), sanjo was established as an "Intangible Cultural Asset" by the Korean government in the 1960s.  As is widely recognized, its elevation in status was a domestic response to multiple factors for the need to preserve the traditional arts in the immediate post-Japanese colonial and post-Korean War period. In this paper I shall explore the musical effects of the elevation of sanjo and responses of musicians to the inevitable tension between the need for preservation and desire for individual creativity.  I will draw on my field research (2001) to consider the management of variant styles of articulating the form and the gradual process of the canonization of sanjo as a musical genre.  The paper will have two focuses: terminology (Sino characters ryu, or “flow,” and ryup'a, or “branch-flow”) by which the styles and performers have been identified since the 1960s, and performers themselves.  Primary attention will be paid to Hwang Byungki, a renown kayagûm (12-stringed zither) performer and composer for the instrument, to comment on the process of validation of change in an ever-hardening system instituted for preservation and its implications for the future of Koran traditional music.

Channeling 'Popular’ Sentiment Through Music? A Korean Case Study
Hilary Finchum-Sung (University of California – Berkeley)

Changes in Korea relegated indigenous music to a cultural inconsequentiality. Despite this, some believed that a Korean essence (uri chongso) or spirit (uri chongsin) could be expressed only through court or folk music idioms, and this has inspired the emergence of new genres.

            This paper looks at two genres of music that developed at separate times in South Korea’s modern history and for diverse reasons.  Both genres look/ed to folk or court music for structural or thematic inspiration, and both sought (or still seek) popular acceptance as expressions of a Korean spirit.  The first of these, sin minyo (new folk song), appeared in the 1930s and offered the public an indigenous popular music distinct from Japanese enka. It struck a nostalgic chord through use of minyo (folk song) style and provided a means for escape from the harsh realities of the occupation. The second genre, sometimes termed ch’angjak kugak, is newly composed music derived from traditional music. Contemporary music specialists strive for ch’angjak kugak’s incorporation into Koreans’ everyday lives through discourse, promotion, and image. Although sin minyo appealed to the aesthetic tastes of the time, ch’angjak kugak requires listeners to suspend their existing musical preferences and support the music out of cultural pride.  This paper aims to examine the significance of rhetoric in the construction of a musical genre.  The genres in question emerged at times of great change and uncertainty in South Korea, answering a call for a distinct expression of Korean sentiment while offering a sonic link to Korean roots.

Bounded Variation? Music Television and its Aesthetics in South Korea
R. Anderson Sutton (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

            A decade after MTV’s international station blurb declared “One world, One image, One channel,” (1993) the configuration of music television in Asia has grown markedly more complex.   In South Korea, as of July 2001, the tens of millions of cable TV subscribers have access not only to a variety of video and live music shows on the government-sponsored channels (e.g., KBS, Arirang), but also to four full-time (24-hour, 7-days a week) music television stations.   Two of these stations are Korean branches of multi-national broadcasting companies (MTV Korea and Channel [V] Korea) and two are locally owned and managed (M-Net and Kmtv).  Based on interviews with Korean music industry personnel (producers, VJs, musicians), music and popular culture critics, and a sample of music television viewers, complemented and informed by extensive personal viewing of these stations on four visits from September 2000 to November 2002, this paper offers an interpretation of the broadcast content and its implications for Korean popular music aesthetics.  The intense competition between the four full-time stations has yielded remarkably little contrast among them, each seeming merely to present its own variation on a gradually evolving model of what music television can or should be offering its viewers.  The paper considers Korean music television content within the context of demographic profiles of viewers, market forces, trends in the wider world of Korean and international popular music, local discourses of authenticity (both “musical” and “national”), and the limits of transnational cultural transmission. 

Korean Hip-Hop for a "New Generation": Seo Taiji's "Classroom Ideology"
Eun-Young Jung (University of Pittsburgh)

            In this paper, I examine the ways in which popular music articulated the rise of a "new generation" (shinsedae) in Korea during the 1990s. This generation, comprising those born after 1970, found its representative voice in Seo Taiji, who succeeded in adapting rap music to Korean culture.

            In 1992, Seo organized the group "Seo Taiji and Boys" and released his first album, "Nan Arayo" ("I Know"), which instantly shifted mainstream popular music away from slow, sentimental ballad music toward faster, dance-oriented genres including rap. Seo's stylistic mixing and sampling techniques, sensational visual presentation, and persuasive lyrics have been viewed by many as the most revolutionary contribution to 20th century Korean popular culture. Seo's music is not a simple appropriation of rap as it is known in the U.S, where it often addresses racial, political, and economic marginality. Seo's rap deals with a different kind of marginality: the cultural struggles of Korean youth against a repressive government educational system supported by the "older generation" (gisungsedae). While the older generation stressed that becoming academically superior was the only way to survive in a competitive modern world, it is ironic that the pressure to succeed at any cost drove some students to despair, depression, and even suicide.  Based on interviews with audiences and analyses of sound, text, and video–including the provocative 1994 song "Kyosil Idea" ("Classroom Ideology")–I will discuss the new generation's cultural ideology as it is embedded in late 20th century Korean culture.

“Korean Ppongjjak: Authenticity and the Politics of Representation”
Okon Hwang (Eastern Connecticut State University)

            Since its inception in the late 1920s, ppongjjak (or tueroteu [trot]) has enjoyed a loyal following in South Korea.  A popular song genre named curiously after the onomatopoetic representation of its accompaniment (duple meter modeled on the fox "trot"), ppongjjak's success has largely been credited to its aesthetical world view, a perspective that has resonated with the Korean pathos of han (sadness or suffering).

            Ppongjjak has, nevertheless, been part of a complex history due to the genre's close connection to Japanese enka and, by default, resentment related to the colonial period.  Early ppongjjak songs during the Japanese occupation were favored by educated Koreans and considered trendy and stylish.  By the 1960s, however, these songs were regarded by some as boorish.  Moreover, some songs were deemed to exhibit more than a tolerable amount of Japanese influence, and were consequently banned by the Korean government.  In the 1980s, a “Ppongjjak Debate" emerged among Korean intellectuals that aimed to legitimate the genre's enduring popularity by claiming its origin to be Korean.  Indeed, some even labeled ppongjjak as "traditional popular song."

            This panel examines ppongjjak's multifarious existence in Korea in relation to the Japanese legacy.  Themes addressed include: 1) whether Koreans have had an active or passive approach to colonialism; 2) whether the activities of musicians and composers have been in sync with governmental or cultural policies; 3) how a tension between "us/Korean/traditional" and "them/other/Japanese/foreign" has manifested itself; and 4) how the meaning of ppongjjak continues to evolve.

From Nightingale to Crow: the Change of Vocal Timbre of the Contemporary Popular Song Singers in South Korea
Byong Won Lee (University of Hawai’i at Manoa)

            The emergence of the contemporary popular song began during the Japanese annexation (1910-45), which brought a new dimension to vocal style in Korea. The melodic contour, rhythm, expression and the vocal quality of these early popular songs were strongly influenced by the Japanese popular songs of that time. The prevailing vocal quality was clear, slightly nasalized and polished voice, which is still strong in present Japanese enka and kayokyoku singing. The early popular song singers in Korea adopted the Japanese style of vocal quality as well as other aspects of Japanese popular songs, and this vocal quality dominated in South Korean until the mid-1960s.

            Currently, most of the old Japanese-influenced elements, except vocal timbre, continue in that early style of popular song genre called ppongjjak. But conspicuous change in vocal timbre from the polished to the strong husky quality began in the mid-1960s. This period coincides with the return from the United States of the Korea-born Las Vegas entertainer Patty Kim, who was one of the leading popular song singers in South Korea, and at present the majority of Korean popular song singers stress this strong husky quality. A few singers with polished vocal quality occasionally surface, but their fame quickly disappears. This paper presents a historical survey of the vocal timbre in ppongjjak, and examines how it is related to the strong, raspy, buzzing or husky timbre of Korean traditional music.

Lee Seng Kang’s The Song of Hope: Music and Identity Politics in Contemporary South Korea
Nathan Hesselink (Illinois State University)

Released in 1998, Lee Seng Kang’s [Yi Saenggang] CD The Song of Hope was as bold in its stated goals as it was in its multiple underlying themes. An officially recognized master of the taegûm, or Korean transverse bamboo flute, Lee has since the 1970s also been at the forefront of collaborative efforts with musicians and styles outside of the traditional realm. This CD continues in this vein, celebrated in the program notes as giving new meaning to the idea of “Korean music” in the late twentieth century. The release represented the first recorded example of the fusion of Korean traditional music, Western jazz, and Korean popular songs. The “hope” here was for a broader, more inclusive approach to Korean-ness that flew in the face of official academic and governmental policies.

To further complicate matters, however, the featured Korean popular songs were from the t’ûrot’û (ppongtchak) repertoire that hail from a colonial past. While today such music may be viewed by the general populace with an unproblematic nostalgia, the songs’ historical and musical materials are nonetheless very much rooted in the Japanese occupation of the early twentieth century (an awareness Lee hints at with his choice of album title, a liberation song popular in the colonial period). This paper will address the musically creative strategies employed by Lee in his struggle to accommodate the “foreign” (i.e., the Euro-American and Japanese) while at the same time safely asserting a distinctively older Korean identity.

Ppongjjak and the Culture of Korean Folk Music and Dance Transmission Centers
Donna Lee Kwon (University of California-Berkeley)

            This paper investigates the seemingly incongruous but welcome practice of singing ppongjjak songs at regional transmission centers of Korean folk expressive culture.  Called “junsoogwan” or “transmission buildings,” these centers were established as part of the government’s system of cultural preservation set in motion in the early 1960’s.  Junsoogwan are usually built in the village or locality that a given style is believed to have been developed.  As a result, going to the junsoogwan for a week-long training session is just as much about learning specific rhythms or dance movements as it is about immersing oneself in a realm where the landscape, sights, sounds and smells of “folk” life are felt to be more authentic and real.  It can be said that the participants of these junsoogwan have created a unique culture where, in general, items or customs that are considered “native” or “folk” are encouraged while that which is considered “foreign” are not.  Though not part of the official curriculum of the junsoogwans I visited from 1999 to 2002, the enthusiastic singing of popular songs such as ppongjjak is perplexing not only because it is considered a “popular” as opposed to “folk” genre but because it is widely acknowledged as having Japanese colonial origins.  In examining how to interpret this unusual practice of ppongjjak, I will explore its role as “play” within the structure of the training session and, more specifically, as part of the process of “orientation” through which points of commonality and “otherness” are negotiated and “played” out.

Korean Angelenos and Black Music since the Rodney King Uprising
Mina Yang (San Francisco Conservatory of Music)

            The 1992 acquittal of the police officers charged with the brutal beating of Rodney King sparked a wave of interethnic violence throughout Los Angeles.  In African American communities, anger against the police and the judicial system was transferred and redirected against local, predominantly Korean storeowners, inciting mass looting and arson of neighborhood businesses.

            The first day of rioting, April 29, christened in Korean as sa-i-ku, marked a turning point in the lives of Korean immigrants.  Abandoned by the police and city officials as their livelihoods went up in smoke and suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, Korean Americans were forced to confront painful realities concerning their place in American society and their relationships with other racial and ethnic groups.

            This paper examines the impact of sa-i-ku on Korean-Angeleno hip-hoppers in the decade since the riots.  I question how young Korean Angelenos, who are mostly first- and 1.5-generation Americans, have negotiated the complex racial terrain of post-1992 Los Angeles in their construction of a viable Korean-American identity; how black music, hip-hop in particular, inflects their understanding of and identification with African American culture even in light of the conflicts that were characterized reductively by mainstream media as black versus Korean; and how their cultural practice.  Specifically, the production and consumption of musicChave changed as a result of the riots.  Using the watershed event of the 1992 uprising as a historical framework, this paper considers how music is implicated in the dynamic process of constructing race and identity in contemporary America.

AKMR Information


President:               Nathan Hesselink

Secretary/Treasurer:       Okon Hwang   

Newsletter Editor:       YouYoung  Kang

Website Manager:       Robert Provine

Members-at-Large:       Hilary Finchum-Sung

                              Heather Willoughby

                                    Paul Yoon