Trash brought up the fact she is said about Korean punk… Rightfully so. I am sad about American punk in the sense that spending a month in Minneapolis I was only capable of finding two shows that even had punk bands playing. I think it is a global phenomenon, but I think Korea faces a unique problem with punk potentially disappearing.
But Korea is not to be blamed — not in the least. There are many distinct social factors that are beyond the control of everyone, including the Koreans themselves, more or less.
First, who were the first fans and innovators of punk? People who grew up in the shadow of the 1960s cultural revolution throughout the West, where old values were largely tossed into the fire. In 1950 it was unheard of for a woman to move in and live with a man before marriage; in 1969 people were having group sex to make a statement. In 1950 the only drug ever consumed was alcohol. In 1969 marijuana, LSD, etc. were popularized.
Western society threw itself away in the 1960s, and in the 1970s the punk backlash was a double-criticism… A criticism of tradition, but more than this, even a criticism of the original critics of tradition. Of course, back then too, it meant many things to many people, but the main point: Punk existed within a cultural vacuum.
Korea has not yet underwent a full cultural revolution that has provided gender equality, nor has class consciousness in the traditional sense been discussed. I have not heard many people proud of working class and humble roots; there does not seem to be a concept of the ‘blue collar’ being an inherently good, noble position. Everyone seems to be working hard to leave this concept.
There is also no romanticization of the countryside — pastoralism has been a huge part of Western society since the 19th century! And the recent industrialization of Korea has not yet lent themselves to either pastoralism or blue collar values. In this sense, some of the meaning of Oi! will easily be lost, and some of the concepts of personal rebellion get lost in the notion that pastoral thought is perhaps still largely associated with a peasant class as opposed to a noble connection with nature.
We are looking at a generation trying to come to terms with gender role, class consciousness and the urban vs. rural paradigms.
But what keeps it all together in this confused mode is the family structures.
In the Western family, you have essentially zero obligations to one’s parents. Rather, it is they who are infinitely obliged to you. In fact, when you become a teenager the notion of your parents controlling your life is utterly disgusting and disdainful. Everything is brought to an extreme…
We view ourselves as complete and total individuals, and our family is a part of our lives but we have no obligation to please them. In fact, for many we have the obligation to irritate them.
We also have no concept of someone being older or younger than us having a large impact on friendship or relations at all.
The Westerner is a lone soul; the Westerner is an island. They are free to associate themselves with whatever views they have and in our education system we are encouraged from young ages to seek out our own individuality.
Even adults in Western society look at school uniforms with disgust.
Of course, it may seem like this is all exaggeration but if we just take these individual Vs. collective ideas, and we analyze the point of social “development” in Korea (NOTE: I do not believe in any such thing as social development or progress but there is no other word due to the linguistical bias of English), we can understand.
And even look at that linguistical bias: if I were to say the ‘social sphere’ of Korea, or perhaps the ‘social culture’ it would not be understood as an academic term. Rather, ‘social development’ or ‘social progress’ are concepts in the West because it is believed we are progressing to a goal. But that is a different post.
The hardest problem to overcome for Korean punk music is precisely the hours of study that are put in, and the social immobility that breeds a sense of desperation amongst the student to push themselves to new levels in the hope that they might be the 60% of kids who are not from Gangnamgu that gets into Seoul National University.
Teenagers lose all time and lose the ability to develop individual hobbies on proper levels, especially ones based on copious amounts of time in socialization and concert going. There becomes a total failure for the teenager to enter punk from a practical point unless they have already given up on high school and are throwing their future away.
And even upon entering college they enter a controlled environment to the extent that they have now already been accepted as Hubae by their Seongbae (inferiors to their superiors), and enter a fraternity/sorority like environment of mass drinking and new found freedom. At this point, a concept of rebellion has been erased from the teenager:
They are now accepted into a society defined by the Major which they study, and they are encouraged to shut up, drink and have fun for the first time in their lives. Where does the need of rebellion come in? For the first time they are shedding school uniforms and imbibing liquor legally in a new found family of people that is largely supportive and are learning to define themselves together.
They are more socially mature than high schoolers in many ways, and thus, what would be the point of viewing the world from the context of social rebellion precisely at that time?
Certainly, some enter punk not through social rebellion but through other outlets, and are not by any means viewing themselves as ‘misfits,’ but a large proportion of people who enter punk in the West do so in Junior High / High School as statements of non-conformity to social standard.
I’ve impressed some of my classmates with punk rock and discussed it, and many are interested to eventually see Big Naturals play. But it is not the same, and it cannot be the same — you have to strike while the Iron is hot.
For most, the Iron is hot when they are young and frustrated.
It is a lose-lose situation.
What we need: more time and liberty for the youth, more class and gender consciousness, and more individualism and a breaking down of the sort of fascism and sense of obligation which can exist in the family.
In a way: punk & extreme metal can be viewed as symptoms of healthy societies. It means:
“We have enough time & money to make music,”
“We have enough freedom to make the music that we want,”
“We are challenging existing norms because we are actualizing ourselves as individuals and no longer see ourselves as having to conform to social standards.”