masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

The Korean Beatles: He5 or the Key Boys? 한국의 비틀즈: 히5 혹은 키보이스?

key-boys-k-apple-27-1971.jpgMaster Lee doesn’t care that much who the Korean Beatles were, but one thing is for sure: in the 1960s and early 1970s a few boy bands certainly tried to emulate the success of the British band (which certainly was great). The most famous group to do so was undoubtedly the Key Boys 키보이스 (here pictured on their 3rd album released in 1971; K-Apple 27, 1971), but other bands such as He5 were also clearly under the Beatles’ spell. Their ‘Hey Jude’ cover song was included on a compilation album by Kim Inbae 김인배 (JLS-120377). kim-inbae-1970-jls-120377.jpgAs the excellent Belgian website “Psyche van het Volk” points out here, however, being nicknamed anything in the 1950s probably implied “by American GIs”, as most of these bands set out on the stages of USO shows first, where there were only few (if any) Koreans among the audience. Compared to other Western bands of the time, Beatles songs were not that often censored, which was probably because the band’s style of performance style was not very erotic, and the lyrics not blatantly critical of militarism, or at least not in the minds of the censors (who probably didn’t consider the song ‘Hey Jude’ to represent an appropriate critique of the inappropriate behaviour of a Japanese woman – Yoko Ono, but it is an amusing idea to think one did). Sookmyung Women’s University’s Gayageum Ensemble 숙명가야금연주단 have in recent years been quite succesful – they would argue themselves – in bridging the divide between traditional Korean music and popular music. The stale, funless and uncreative way in which they have rendered the songs ‘Let it Be’ and ‘Hey Jude’, however, does not earn them Master Lee’s accolade of “pulp”, but, instead, the antonym “crap”.

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