K-POP ARTISTS AND SONGS
Korean American K-Pop stars have included Jay Park, former 2PM leader who sparked public outrage after netizens found old posts on his social media site about his dislike for South Korea; Brian Gintaek Joo, who was born in Absecon, N.J. and a a top R&B singer in Korea in the early 2010s; and Tony An, who DJ'd in New York clubs before joining the influential hip-hop group H.O.T. in the 1990s. [Source: Jason Song, Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2007]
On two memorable early K-Pop hits — ‘Yo Yo’ by Diva, (1999) and, ‘Lies’ by g.o.d. (2000) Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times: ‘Yo Yo’ was a “midcareer hit from Diva, which made its mark as one of the first successful female rap outfits in the country. By this point, the trio’s music was polished, and some of the bite of its early singles had been quelled, but “Yo Yo” still had verve and snap....By the turn of the millennium, boy bands were the currency of K-pop, but g.o.d. imbued that structure with dignity and emotional grounding. “Lies” is one of the group’s biggest singles, a throbbing ballad with a slow-burn music video that’s unerringly sad. [Source: Jon Caramanica, New York Times, February 7, 2018]
Classic and Important K-Pop Songs:
"Nan Arayo” (I Know) (1992) by Seo Tai-ji and Boys
“Candy” (1996) by H.O.T.
“It’s Raining” (2004) by Rain
"Abracadabra" (2009), “Brown Eyed Girls: "famous its iconic “arrogant dance”
"Gee " (2009) by Girl’s Generation
“Bad Girl, Good Girl” (2010) ny Miss A
"Nobody” (2010) by Wonder Girls
"Nu ABO" (2010) by f(x)
"Lucifer" (2010) by SHINee:
"Bubble Pop" (2011) by Hyuna
"I Am The Best" (2011) by 2NE1
"Mr. Simple" (2011) by Super Junior
"Gangnam Style" (2012) by Psy
“Fantastic Baby” (2012) by Big Bang (2012)
"Crayon" (2013) by G-Dragon
“Bang, Bang, Bang” (2016) by Big Bang (2016)
“Blood, Sweat and Tears” (2016) ) by BTS
“Dynamite” (2020) by BTS
Seo Tai-ji and Boys
Seo Tai-ji and Boys sold over 3.5 million recordings, a record in Korea at that time, and caused a huge sensation in the mid 1990s. In 1996, a few months after their fourth album “Come Back Home” sold a million copies the group suddenly broke-up, sending tens of thousands of schoolgirls into fits. Huge crowds of screaming girls formed around hotels where the band was staying and one attempt by the band to leave the country was scuttled when hundreds of girls showed up at the airport and wouldn't let them board the plane.
On the 1992 song ‘Nan Arayo’ Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times:: “A new jack swing anthem from the group widely credited with beginning the innovations that would eventually lead to what is now understood as K-pop. “Nan Arayo” has it all: tender soul harmonies, rat-tat-tat drum machine beats, a Flavor Flav sample and a video that sets hip-hop dance routines to a hard-rock guitar riff.” [Source: Jon Caramanica, New York Times, February 7, 2018]
During the height of Beatlemania-like "Seo Tai-ji syndrome," girls screamed so loud at their concerts they drowned out the music and jumped on the stage and grabbed anything that had been touched or sweated on by the group, especially by the charismatic lead singer Seo Tai-ji. At one concert in Taegu, three girls were trampled to death when 8,000 people showed up performance at a hall with seats for only 2,500 people.
Seo Tai-ji and Boys was very influential. Their rap songs style, dance routines, fashions, attitude and stage persona were imitated by a whole generation of vocal groups that came and went after they broke up. Seo Tai-ji later returned and was not shy about using profanity or sex in his work. In the early 2000s, he released a video with explicit sex scenes and nudity.
Beginning of K-Pop: Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992
Aja Romano wrote in Vox: “As Moonrok editor Hannah Waitt points out in her excellent series on the history of K-pop, K-pop is unusual as a genre because it has a definitive start date, thanks to” a rap trio called Seo Taiji and Boys. “Seo Taiji had previously been a member of the South Korean heavy metal band Sinawe, which was itself a brief but hugely influential part of the development of Korean rock music in the late ‘80s. After the band broke up, he turned to hip-hop and recruited two stellar South Korean dancers, Yang Hyun-suk and Lee Juno, to join him as backups in a group dubbed Seo Taiji and Boys. On April 11, 1992, they performed their single “Nan Arayo (I Know)” on a talent show. [Source: Aja Romano, Vox, February 26, 2018]
“Not only did the Boys not win the talent show, but the judges gave the band the lowest score of the evening. But immediately after the song debuted, “I Know” went on to top South Korea’s singles charts for a record-smashing 17 weeks, which would stand for more than 15 years as the longest No. 1 streak in the country’s history. “I Know” represented the first time modern American-style pop music had been fused with South Korean culture. Seo Taiji and Boys were innovators who challenged norms around musical styles, song topics, fashion, and censorship. They sang about teen angst and the social pressure to succeed within a grueling education system, and insisted on creating their own music and writing their own songs outside of the manufactured network environment.
“By the time Seo Taiji and Boys officially disbanded in 1996, they had changed South Korea’s musical and performance landscape, paving the way for other artists to be even more experimental and break even more boundaries — and for music studios to quickly step in and take over, forming an entire new studio system from the remnants of the broadcast-centered system.
The term “Hallyu” (Korean Wave in Chinese) was first used in 2000 to describe Chinese fans’ enthusiasm for K-pop boy band H.O.T. during their concert in Beijing. H.O.T was created Lee Soo-man — the founder of SM Entertainment and in the opinion of many the architect of K-Pop — in 1996 and is considered the first Korean idol group.
Aja Romano wrote in Vox: “H.O.T. shared traits with today’s idol groups: a combination of singing, dancing, and rapping, and disparate personalities united through music. In 1999, the band was chosen to perform in a major benefit concert with Michael Jackson, in part because of their potential to become international pop stars.”[Source: Aja Romano, Vox, February 26, 2018]
On “H.O.T.’s 1996 single ‘Candy’, Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times: “Just as the Backstreet Boys were honing the idea of the contemporary boy band in the U.S., H.O.T. was establishing the rules in South Korea: chipper melodies and coordinated outfits you could see from space. Though the group was known for tackling serious topics in its music, this early single was delightful fluff.” [Source: Jon Caramanica, New York Times, February 7, 2018]
John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker: “In 1996, S.M. débuted its first idol group: a five-member boy band called H.O.T. (short for High-Five of Teenagers). It was followed by S.M.’s first girl group, S.E.S., after the given names of the three members (Sea, Eugene, and Shoo). Both groups were enormously popular in Korea, and inspired other groups. Soon K-pop was pushing both traditional trot and rock to the commercial margins of the Korean music scene. By the late nineties, H.O.T. was topping charts in China and Taiwan. Both H.O.T. and S.E.S. disbanded in the early two-thousands,[Source: John Seabrook, The New Yorker, October 8, 2012]
BoA is a solo South Korean singer who is very popular in Japan. A member of the SM Entertainment stable of performers, she made her debut in 2000 and did her first show in Tokyo in 2001 at the age 14. She was a regular on the Japanese charts in the 2000s and appeared regularly on television endorsing a number of products, in the process making millions. She speaks English, Korean and Japanese well enough to do interviews in all three languages. BoA stand for “Beat of an Angel.”
BoA worked with Japanese producers Her music was s closer to J-Pop than K-Pop. Her 2001 album “Jumping in the World” sold more than 5 million copies in Japan. She was S.M.'s biggest performer before K-Pop really started to catch on in the late 2000s.
On BoA’s 2006 song ‘Everlasting’: Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times: “Since getting discovered at a talent search at the age of 11, BoA has become one of the most durable and versatile K-pop stars, dabbling in R&B, rock, pop and more. This is one of her more conventional songs, a tortured ballad that showcases her plaintive voice. [Source: Jon Caramanica, New York Times, February 7, 2018]
Rain was the biggest South Korean pop star in the 2000s but like Seo Tai-ji and Boys, BoA and Psy he wasn’t really K-Pop. He was named one Time magazines 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 and 2011 and was particularly popular in Japan among middle-aged women. Rain had released seven albums as of 2009 and acted in several South Korean film and popular television shows. He made his Hollywood film debut in "Speed Racer" in 2008 and also appeared in “Ninja Assassin.” His 2004 album “It's Raining” sold more than 1 million copies. In May 2007, Rain became the first Korean artist to give a solo performance at Tokyo Dome. More than 35,000 fans, most of them women, came to see him. The gig was part of the a 10 country tour that included dates in Thailand and the United States. Hong Kong fans reportedly bought a STAR in the sky for RAIN
Deborah Sontag wrote in the New York Times: Rain “is preparing for two concerts at Madison Square Garden by studying. Day and night, an English tutor trails him through Seoul, peppering him with conversational phrases as he labors to polish his singing, his martial arts-inflected dancing and, presumably, his chest baring. You can never be too prepared to go global. At 23, Rain, who has been labeled the Korean Justin Timberlake and the Korean Usher, is a serious and driven performer (with washboard abs, winsome looks and a Gene Kelly-like ability to leap through puddles while performing his hit song, "It's Raining"). He wants nothing less than to break down barriers, build cultural bridges and become the first Asian pop star to succeed in America. "The United States is the dominant music market," he said through an interpreter. "I would really like to see an Asian make it there. I would like that Asian to be me. That's why I'm studying the language, reading up on the culture and practicing every day to correct my weaknesses." [Source: Deborah Sontag, New York Times, January 29, 2006]
After his debut in 2002, Rain, whose real name is Ji-Hoon Jung, was the one of the main purveyors of Hallyu (the Korean Wave) with leading roles in soap operas complementing his musical career. Bryan Walsh wrote in Time: “Rain is big — big! — in Japan. The South Korean king of pop also fills seats in Beijing, Pusan and Bangkok. In Hong Kong his concerts sell out in 10 minutes, and across much of Asia, fans snap up pirated videos of his soap operas. Thanks to his angelic face, killer bod and Justin Timber-like dance moves, Rain, 23, has ridden the crest of hallyu, or the Korean wave, the Asia-wide obsession for that country's pop culture. But the ambition that lifted Rain (real name: Ji Hoon Jung) out of a one-room house in Seoul won't be sated by simply conquering the biggest continent on earth. Rain is looking east to the U.S., studying English day and night. He sold out two shows at Madison Square Garden's smaller venue in February, and that could be just a few drops of the deluge that some think will follow the release of his English-language debut album this fall. Yet even if Rain, whose style virtually clones American pop, fails to make it in the U.S., the trend he represents is here to stay. Rain is the face — and well-muscled torso — of pop globalism. Before he visited the U.S., Rain already had a fan base, thanks to Internet music sites, satellite TV and DVDs of his soap operas. Those are the same media that make it easier than ever for growing numbers of Americans to get their fix of Japanese anime, Bollywood films and Korean music — and vice versa. Pop culture no longer moves simply in a single direction, from the West to the rest of the world. Instead, it's a global swirl, no more constrained by borders than the weather. Rain, after all, falls on everyone. [Source: Bryan Walsh, Time, May 08, 2006]
Rain’s Music and Image
On Rain’s 2004 hit “It’s Raining”, Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times: “A solo idol emerging from an era of boy bands, Rain was magnetic, an impressive singer and a liquid dancer. “It’s Raining” was one of several chart-topping hits he had in the 2000s, a tightly controlled mix of Michael Jackson-influenced pop, club music, R&B and rock theatrics.” [Source: Jon Caramanica, New York Times, February 7, 2018]
Deborah Sontag wrote in the New York Times: Rain is inspired by American pop music, but his interpretations provide, at the least, an Asian face and filter. His producer, Jin-Young Park, describes Rain's music as more "sensitive and delicate" than American R & B and says that his choreography is crisper and more precise, influenced by classical dance and martial arts. "In Rain, Asians might see the spirit of Usher or Timberlake or even Michael Jackson, but he makes the music theirs," said Nusrat Durrani, senior vice president and general manager of MTV World. "He is a huge star in the making, but, at the same time, he is a very indigenous artist and a source of local pride." [Source: Deborah Sontag, New York Times, January 29, 2006]
“Susan Kim, a sociologist in Los Angeles, and her American-born children discovered Rain, whom they refer to by his Korean name, Bi (pronounced Bee), on a Korean music Web site called Bugs. Then they sought out videos of a Korean mini-series, "Full House," in which Rain plays a pop star.” In January 2006 "Full House" became available with English subtitles on New York cable, too, through ImaginAsian TV, which bills itself as America's first 24/7 Asian-American network. Not long afterwards, “Rain's music videos” found “a platform on MTV-K, a channel catering to Korean-Americans.
Jin-Young Park, Rain’s producer and English tutor, told the New York Times: "He thinks he's not good at all," Mr. Park, who spoke from Los Angeles, said in flawless English. "He's always worried. He thinks he's not blessed or talented. He thinks people are being fooled, that it's an illusion. He wants to catch up to that illusion." Rain's family was living in a one-room house in Seoul when Mr. Park and Rain first met. "There was something sad about him then, and there still is, something cool and gloomy," Mr. Park said. That's how the stage name came about. "I was told that when I'm dancing I give off the feeling of a rainy day," Rain said, in a speaking voice that is deep and rich.
Rain’s Early Music Career
Deborah Sontag wrote in the New York Times: “Rain said that he first discovered "the euphoria" of performing during a sixth-grade talent show, after which he tried to hang around some professional dancers in his neighborhood. But he said they treated him terribly, finally beating him up and stealing his winter jacket. He went on to be rejected — he kept count — 18 times by artistic management companies. Again and again, he was told that he would never be "hot," that he was too tall and "too ugly," primarily because he lacked a "double eyelid." Without cosmetic surgery to create a fold above his eyes — a relatively common procedure, though one often decried as a capitulation to Western beauty standards — he could forget about a show business career in Korea, he was told. [Source: Deborah Sontag, New York Times, January 29, 2006]
“By the time he presented himself for an audition at Mr. Park's performing arts academy, Rain was in a state of desperation. His mother was quite ill, and he himself had not been eating regularly. Rain, then 19, gave the longest and most passionate audition he could muster, nearly four hours of singing and dancing.Mr. Park (who goes by the initials J.Y. or J.Y.P.) accepted him into the JYP Academy. "He had this hunger," Mr. Park said. "That is true," Rain said. "I was literally hungry." "As soon as I signed Rain, he asked me to help his mother and explained the situation," Mr. Park said. "I was like, 'Yo, get in the car.' We went to his house, and I saw his mom lying there on this cold floor. We got a big surgery done on her. But then she insisted on no more treatment. She wanted me to spend my money on her son. He would tell her, 'Yo, Mom, J.Y.P. has enough money to support both of us.' She passed away a year before he debuted."
“After three years of training, Rain's first stage experience came as a backup dancer for Mr. Park. Mr. Park, who still writes all his songs, created Rain's first album, "Bad Guy," in 2002. With the second album, "Running Away From the Sun," Rain said that he began asserting himself in the realm of choreography. "By the time his third album came out in 2004, they stopped calling him little J.Y. and started calling me Rain's producer," Mr. Park said. Soap operas are the engine of celebrity in Asia for Koreans, and so Rain's move into television was a calculated one. "We saw Korean drama flowing all over Asia," Mr. Park said. "I said to Rain, 'Since you know how to act, we should use this to make you go overseas.' As soon as his second TV drama, 'Full House,' exploded all over Asia, we went over to hit them with concerts."”
In the soap opera, "A Love to Kill," Rain played “a martial arts fighter. To alter his physique for the role, he told Korean journalists, he was jumping rope 2,000 times a day and eating only chicken breast and mackerel. This kind of discipline defines him. In addition to his acting, recording and some modeling, he is finishing a university degree in postmodern music. Although unable to attend many classes, he does all the homework, he said, plus studies not only English but Chinese and Japanese, too. Mr. Park said that Rain was motivated by a sense of obligation to his late mother. "He promised his mom that he was going to be the No. 1 singer in the whole world," he said. "That's why he never parties, never drinks, never goes out and practices hours every day."
“It was Mr. Park who, with 20 CD's in his backpack, set their global journey into motion. He took off for Los Angeles and went door to door "being nobody." After a year, he got his first call, from Bad Boy, P. Diddy's entertainment company, expressing interest in one of his songs for the rapper Mase. After that, the collaboration with Americans began. Mr. Park said he believed that other Asian pop stars have failed in the United States by trying "to impersonate what was going on here." He said that he and Rain wanted to avoid "being another couple of Asian dudes trying to do black music," by embracing their inner delicacy and letting their Asian-ness show. The moment is ripe, Mr. Park said. "Every market has been tapped except for the Asian market, and that's 5 percent of America," he said. "That's our base. But I believe that we can move beyond that, and I believe that the American music industry needs to partner with us to make inroads into Asia, too."
Rain’s Aborted Concerts and Lawsuit Problems
In 2009. A federal jury ruled that Rain and JYP Entertainment to pay more than US$8 million for abruptly canceling his Hawaii concert in 2007. Rain scheduled to kick off his U.S. tour at Aloha Stadium but the concert never happened. Hawaii-based Click Entertainment, Inc., said the singer breached a contract, causing the company to lose US$1.5 million in concert related expenses. A similar lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles, where he also failed to perform. The show was canceled hours before showtime. Rain also canceled concerts in New York, Toronto, San Francisco and Atlanta in 2007. [Source: Leland Kim, KHNL, March 2009]
Chris Lee wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Rain's legal troubles follow his attempts to break into the U.S. market and build the kind of loyal fan base here that has eluded other Asian performers.” Rain, “26, appeared in federal court in Honolulu to answer a civil suit filed after he canceled a concert at Hawaii's Aloha Stadium three days before his scheduled appearance. Seung Su Lee, president of Click Entertainment, testified that Rain and his former management agency, JYP Entertainment, had breached their contract, defrauded his company and damaged its reputation. The promoter says he lost US$1.5 million because of the singer's no-show. [Source: Chris Lee, Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2009]
“In Los Angeles the promoter of Rain's June 2007 concert at Staples Center — canceled just two hours before curtain time — filed a complaint in Superior Court suing Rain and his management team for US$30 million, plus punitive damages. Promoter Andrew Kim accused Rain; his current management firm, J. Tune; JYP; and the singer's South Korean event coordinator, Star M, of breach of contract and fraud. "He pretty much put me through hell for the last two years," Kim said. "Rain caused me a lot of harm in the entertainment industry and caused a lot of repercussions from the cancellation. I want vindication."
“Kim alleges that Rain and JYP failed to disclose a trademark infringement lawsuit filed against the singer in Nevada in February 2007 over the use of the name Rain (a direct translation of the singer's Korean nickname, "Bi"), which had already been trademarked by a Beatles cover band. The lawsuit threw into question Kim's ability to promote the concert using the singer's stage name.
“Things weren't always this way. In early 2007, Rain appeared poised to take the U.S. by storm after a successful engagement in Las Vegas. A television superstar in Asia, he had also been cast in a supporting role in the Wachowski brothers' anime-inspired "Speed Racer." But by any yardstick, the Rain's Coming tour was a fiasco. Performances in San Francisco, New York and Atlanta were also canceled. According to Kim's company, V2B Global, nearly 80 percent of Staples Center's 9,429 seats had been sold, with fans having flown in from as far away as Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo. The company offered full refunds to ticket holders.”
Rain’s Military Service
In October 2011, Rain began his mandatory military service after showing up for boot camp at an army training center in Uijeongbu, north of of Seoul. With his hair cut short, he bid farewell to weeping fans before he stepped into the camp. AFP reported: Many fans, including hundreds from Japan, Taiwan, China and elsewhere in Asia, burst into tears when the singer disappeared into the camp. The singer will undergo eight weeks of basic training before being posted elsewhere for the remainder of his 22 months' service. He staged a farewell concert in Seoul Sunday attended by 20,000 fans. [Source: AFP, October 11, 2011]
The Telegraph reported: “Rain is fulfilling his compulsory military service at a relatively late age and risks losing career momentum during the 21 months he spends out of the public eye. But he could otherwise face a backlash given South Korea's hostility toward draft dodgers. Military service has agonised many young South Korean entertainers and athletes hoping to continue their successful careers. Athletes can be exempted from service if they win an Olympic gold medal or otherwise improve the country's image with major achievements. But entertainers – no matter how successful they are abroad – enjoy no such lenience from the government. "Entertainers are thought to work for their own sakes. That's the difference," said Hwang Sang-min, a Yonsei University psychology professor and frequent commentator on popular entertainment. [Source: The Telegraph, October 12, 2011]
“Recent years have seen a series of draft-dodging scandals involving top stars. Song Seung-heon, a Korean drama star hugely popular in Japan and other Asian countries, suffered a massive public backlash in 2004 over attempts to avoid the draft. He eventually went to the army and is now back on the path of success. "The mood against draft dodgers is so hostile that nowadays entertainers feel it's better to simply get it over with," said Ha Jae-keun, a South Korean pop columnist. In the past, a two- or three-year hiatus often meant irrevocable damage to an entertainer's career in South Korea as the public moved on to new faces, but nowadays military service can actually enhance a star's image, Ha said. Kim Hee-ra, a 21-year-old Sogang University student in Seoul, said she was sad to see Rain go but glad that he was fulfilling his duties. "The fact that Rain entered the army without any attempts to be exempted will positively affect his future career," she said. Lee Jin-young, 22, fretted that Rain may not be as popular after a two-year publicity blackout. He also worried that Rain may find his service to be tougher because he is starting at a relatively old age. Many people serve in their early 20s.
Problems for Rain While Doing His Military Service
Rain served as an "entertainment soldier" for a unit that promotes the military. In January 2013, the South Korean military said it punish Rain for meeting with a top actress while serving his military service. Associated Press reported: “Paparazzi photos showing Rain meeting with Kim Tae-hee have raised suspicions that highly sought-after entertainers may be receiving special favors during their military service. The ministry denies Rain has received special treatment. Rain, an “entertainment soldier,” however, broke rules by meeting with Kim at least three times” in 2012 late last year despite being on duty, ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing. Rain is not allowed to have such private meetings while outside his base for official duties like recording and performing.” [Source: Sam Kim, Associated Press, January 3, 2013
One of cases between Andrew Kim and Rain involved allegations that the star was involved in heavy gambling in Las Vegas. RAIN denied thus but a gambling log obtained from Las Vegas casinos filed with the Seoul Prosecutors Office indicates that RAIN bet approximately US$ 175,500 in card games such as Black Jack and Baccarat over two days, from June 23 to 24, 2007, and lost an estimated US$ 17,100. [Source: Business Wire, March 8, 2012]
Rain was sued for US$189,000 by the former tenant of a building he owned in the heart of Seoul's Gangnam District The tenant claimed Rain is responsible for not informing him that "the building has the possibility of having leaks in the ceiling." The leaks reportedly caused several valuable paintings to be damaged. Rain’s record company said, “we believe” the tenant “is abusing the fact that Rain is a public figure to his own financial advantage.” [Source: kpopstraz.com, November 20, 2013]
In July 2013, Rain was officially released from military service after 21 months. Hundreds of fans waving banners cheered as the 31-year-old left the Defence Ministry building in Seoul. Two weeks before his release, according to the Korea Herlad, Rain and several other active duty PR soldiers including singer Se7en, Sanchu of the group Mighty Mouth, KCM (Kang Chang-Mo), and Kim Kyung-hyun from group “The Cross” were filmed wearing civilian clothes, using cellphones and drinking alcohol. Se7en and Sanchu were also filmed leaving an erotic massage parlor at 3 a.m. According to the Defense Ministry, Rain spent 71 days off duty last year, compared to the average of 43 days given to non-celebrity soldiers.” The singer was confined to his barracks for seven days after getting caught meeting the actress. [Source: BBC, July 10, 2013; Julie Jackson, Korea Herald, July 9, 2013]
In January 2014, Rain released his sixth album entitled "Rain Effect" as well as music videos for its double title numbers "30sexy" and "La Song". Later he starred with Jason Patric, John Cusack and Bruce Willis in the action movie "The Prince." In January 2017, Rain married Kim Tae-hee, the actress, and the couple went to Bail for their honeymoon. The couple got married in a private wedding ceremony in front of only 100 friends and family at a Catholic church in Seoul. Among the celebrities in attendance were the singer PSY, the actor Park Joon Jyung and Jin Young Park, the head of JYP Entertainment Park. [Source: Jakarta Post, January 24, 2017]
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.
Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.
Updated in July 2021