masterly master lee

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

Korean 7″ singles 한국의 7″ 싱글

1950s-single.jpgMaster Lee has noticed that it is common to use the word “single” when referring to a Korean hit song marketed separately. But is one such single actually brought out on vinyl or plastic? Nope, it isn’t. In fact all you will be able to purchase is an MP3-ed or MP4-ed audio or video file with the hit song. No jacket, no label. Because of economic hardship Korea never developed a market for singles and collectors tell us that only a handful survive. They were brought out in the late 1950s, but due to the relative high cost of a single (for both producers and consumers), their total number was small and their commercial value negative. Bootlegs were much cheaper to produce and since no one in Korea cared much about foreign Copyright until the phenomenon dubbed “the Korean Wave” came along, they were a very popular alternative to buying separate songs or albums that only included a few good songs. victor-rca-side-a.jpgvictor-rca-side-b.jpgThe black market that came up first in the 1950s thrived on bootlegs (as well as many products originating from the American bases, such as food and clothing). A number of singles that circulated in Korea were therefore foreign: Japanese or American. Pictured are the front and back of an RCA Records singles jacket here containing the 1957 Japanese hit song ‘Hamakko Madorosu’ by Misora Hibari on Columbia (SA-72), which Master Lee purchased in Tapshimni in 2005. Rainbow Records’ ‘Arirang’ (45-253, late 1950s) was maybe the first single ever to be produced of a Korean song. The Kim Sisters 김 씨스터즈 have brought out some 10 singles in total, including ‘Charlie Brown’, ‘Harbor Lights’ (Epic 5-9312), and ‘China Nights/Shina no yoru‘, but they were also brought out in America. In Korea Nam Insu was among a select few to bring one out. Pictured is his nam-insu-insaeng-ui-kwihyangji.jpg‘In Exile From Life/Insaeng-ŭi kwihyangji‘ (Oskar Record OL-308). another 7″ was recorded by the Korean Children’s Choir some time in the 1960s. Their single entitled “The Loved Folk Songs of Korea” on an unnamed Korean label had Toraji on the A side, and we were happy to find Arirang on the B side, where it belongs. Does anyone know of any other singles?


  Ceints de bakélite wrote @

If you’re interested in “Shina No Yoru”, I just posted the original 78rpm version by Watanabe Hamako on my blog :


Ceints de bakélite

  masterlymasterlee wrote @

Thank you very much; fantastic stuff!

With best wishes,

Master Lee

  Ceints de bakélite wrote @

Thanks for your comment ! Nice blog !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: