Korean Indie Music

In Korea, the majority of people are really into commercial music, especially songs of ‘idol groups’. In my opinion, since these groups’ simple and addictive songs always head for success in the market, many songwriters are just making similar songs that pursue ‘hooks’. Outside this mainstream culture, some people make unique songs by themselves. These musicians are called independent musicians or otherwise indie musicians, and I will introduce you some well-known Korean indie musicians and their songs.

The most important part of Korean indie music can be summed up in two words, “emotional” and “unusual”. Hook songs are exciting but lack emotion because their melodies and lyrics are designed to be simple, sensational, and addictive. However, no matter what kind of melody they use, indie music possess an element that captures the many emotions in our lives. Emotions are melted into lyrics and melodies. Therefore, many people are touched by these songs.

Below are personal picks for the best musicians with touchy lyrics

Broccoli You Too(브로콜리너마저)

‘Broccoli You Too’ is a popular four-member indie band which debuted in 2005. Their music has good lyrics reflecting emotion in our daily lives and love. Some of their songs have bobbling melodies with electronic guitar and synthesizer, while other songs have gentle piano sounds. I personally regard their 1st album <보편적인 노래> as the best but sadly enough the tracks in the 1st album are now blocked due to copyright issues. Remixed versions are in the repackaged album <Golden-Hit Tracks> and they will give you the perfect mood of spring.

Recommended songs: <사랑한다는 말로도 위로가 되지 않는>, <유자차>, <1/10>

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‘Zitten’ is also popular among indie music fans for appealing melodies and lyrics. ‘Zitten’ is a pure Korean word, which means ‘the color is thickly laid on’ and its songs have just that feeling. The vocalist has a deep resonant voice with sorrowful mood. When you are broken-hearted, you may feel better listening to his voice.

Recommended songs: <Feel Alright>, <12월>, <고래>

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Indie music can also be unusual. Underground musicians don’t use trendy melodies or structure in their music but just express their emotions with somewhat unconventional technique. That’s why their songs are unique. They break the frame of mainstream culture.

Personally the best musician for unique features is

The Black Skirts (검정치마)

It’s a one-man band formed in 2008. Main vocalist Jo Hyu-il also plays the guitar, bass, and keyboard for his music. His music is not that lyrical compared to that of Broccoli you too, but it has its own color and sensitive mood. Jo Hyu-il has an attractive voice with a bit decadent atmosphere. The 1st album <201> was characterized by unique sounds of instruments and 2nd album <Don’t You Worry Baby I’m Only Swimming> included sweet love songs with touchy lyrics. Finally, the 3rd album <Hollywood> was recently released as a limited edition.


I just introduced three favorites of the many Korean indie musicians today which consists of as many musicians as those in the mainstream K-pop. As K-pop is growing more and more popular, I recommend you to enjoy not only the music of EXO and Girls’ generation but also these indie music. If people have more interest in different types of music, Korean indie music would be much more colorful.

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Article by Wonji from Korea

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