Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shin Joong Hyun (신중현) "Beautiful Rivers & Mountains" & "From Where to Where"

South Korea's "godfather of rock" finally gets some reissue treatment love in the west.  These two compilations ("Beautiful Rivers..." gets the whole vinyl/cd treatment, while "From Where..." is a digital only 7 song release) were released in the U.S. by Light in the Attic, and are long overdue.  Shin Joong Hyun is pretty much THE dude for Korean guitar rock in the 60s and early 70s before his imprisonment by the Park Chung Hee administration/dictatorship (more info on that is on the interweb).  He was featured (along with his backing band) on a bunch of different singers albums.  Some of these singers are not even on these compilations (no Pearl Sisters, but I have one of their albums anyway), and it also doesn't feature any Add 4 which was Shin's first band from around '64.  I'm really curious about that band, and I hope Light in the Attic will reissue that stuff someday, as well.

The music is really quite great, although it sounds dated in comparison to what was going on during the time that most of this was released (1969-1974).  Don't let that stop you from hearing this stuff.  Shin's guitar playing is quite great and carries a kind of eastern melodic edge that maybe you won't hear on first listens.  He can also rip shit up, and fry your brain with acid drenched guitar solos.  For proof of that, listen to Kim Sun's "The Man Who Must Leave" which sounds like a cross between The Doors and Bauhaus (listen to the bass) with Shin ripping out some twisted acid guitar at the beginning and the end.  In between is some very heartfelt singing from Kim Sun, whom I've never heard of before.  A very passionate man, apparently.

Other highlights is, of course, the controversial title track which was the root cause of Shin's eventual imprisonment.  Apparently there's an 18 minute version of this song somewhere, but I've never heard it.  Also, my favorite Korean singer, Kim Jung Mi (김정미), from this era is featured here.  The fantastic "The Sun" (also on Kim Jung Mi's "Now", which is a great psych/folk record by any standards) on "Beautiful Rivers..." and the title track from the digital release are excellent songs that really showcase what a great singer Kim was.  Some really nice strings on "The Sun" as well.  Might bring a tear to your eye, so be careful.

There's also highlights that you're probably not going to find anywhere else even if you live in Korea.  For example, a very funky live cover of "Funky Broadway" which sounds like it features an American singer, but gives no credit to him in the liner notes.  And "I've got Nothing to Say" which is a too short live & raw recording for a movie called The Beauty (미인 - good luck finding that one).  Seriously, that song could've kept going for another 5 to 10 minutes and I wouldn't be complaining.  A studio version of it is featured on "From Where..." but it's not quite the same.

Seriously great stuff.  You can get this stuff from the Light in the Attic website, which I highly recommend cuz it'll be cheaper.  This includes digital downloads if, like myself, you would love to have the vinyl, but have a hard time justifying shipping it over to a country that you may not stay in for much longer.  Got to keep it sparse in the material possessions category.  Then again, it's probably at one of the record stores I go to from time to time in Seoul.  I'll write about those stores later.  Right now, enjoy this shit.

Here's the actual clip from the movie The Beauty that I wrote about above:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Welcome to the "New Blog"

Alright, I decided to import all of my blogs related to Korea over on this one.  I guess the other one (at is pretty much dead, unfortunately.  C'est la vie, as the French, or something, would say.  Anyway, I will try to continue posting stuff about Korea and some of my travels for the one or two people that might actually read it on this new one.  And, of course, listen to Slough Feg.  The awesome metal band that coined the term Hardworlders in song.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sokcho (속초), Inje (인제), food, beach...

Here's a quick preface:  Most of this was written in late August, and I just now got around to finishing it.  Lazy.

I'm back in Korea after a month in the states.  Not really ready to teach students yet.  Not even ready to do a post right now, but I need to get one in for August.  I don't want this thing to be all passe cuz I missed a month.  Right?  Well, after a grueling 25 hour trip back to Korea with only 30 minutes of sleep before I had to wake up and board, I decided that I should probably take a trip out to the northeast coast of Korea to a coastal city called Seokcho.  The route went something like this:

Friday, directly after work, I had planned to take a 2 and 1/2 hour bus to Injae.  Injae is where my buddy Jason temporary lived until his flight back to the states.  Injae is in Gangwon-do, the most beautiful province in Korea.  Seriously!  Check the pics below.  Before I made it to the bus station to head out there, I decided it would be a grand idea to sit on my glasses.  Broken.  No...a run to the eyeglass store and they were good as...almost new.  So, I had to rush to the bus stop.  Made it!  Get on the bus.  Relax.  Tried to sleep, but couldn't.  Hopped off in Injae and I'm eating bbq with his boss and drinking soju.  Here's what we were eating below:

Here is some makchang (막창) which is the....large intestine I believe.  Of a pig....I believe.  Very good here.  This is the bbq place in the building of the bus station.

And here's the whole spread:

And below is pork meat with the bone cartilidge in it (find out the name later).  Quite crunchy and very good.  This is a pic of it before it was cooked:

Drinking and hell raising occurred on this night, and the next day Jason's girl came by and we headed out to Sokcho.  Before we got there I got a great picture of Seoraksan right here:

Beautiful, eh?  I've hiked that thing before.  Took me 12 hours, and I thought I was going to die but I did it.  And that's what's important...maybe.  Hard.  Very hard.

Not long after that shot, we ate what might have been the best meal I've ever had in my life.  Below are the pictures of what we ate and I will have to ask my friend what they were again because I've never had this meal before.

Here's the spread.  There's a type of jeon (전) in the middle next to the kimchi.  All of these side dishes were pretty great.

Below are some kind of tofu cakes.  They're in the above picture too.  Really great.

This was not featured in the above picture, but this was kind of the main course.  It's a tofu soup type of thing, and you could add some soy sauce to it if you liked.  Personally, I thought it was great without anything added to it.  Fantastic lunch.

Of course, you need some booze at the dinner table if you're gonna eat in this country, otherwise it's just not a fucking meal.  Welcome to makolli world.  Love this stuff.

After this, we headed to the beach, of which I don't have any pictures of, but that night we painted the town polka dots.  Here is some amazing amazing food we ate, and a pic of the Sokcho bridge which featured a swarm of seagulls flying above.  Really quite beautiful.  It must have been the lights that attracted them.  Unfortunately, I don't have a good picture of the seagulls, but I do have some video I posted at the bottom of the post.

Okay, here's a bottle of makolli, which I think was the Gangwon-do variety.  Each province of Korea has their own particular kinds of soju and makolli.  This was Inje makolli (인제 막걸리).

Ahh!!!!  Delicious.  What we have in the middle is squid soondae (오징어 순대) which is basically stuffed squid, and it is fucking awesome.  Above it is regular soondae which is basically a Korean sausage using pig intestines that they stuff.  Sometimes it's not that great at the street stands, but here it was great.  Below both is kimchi.  Where would a Korean meal be without it.

The main course?  Maybe, but it was some fantastic grilled fish.  A definite variety, and I don't know the names of all of 'em.  Maybe I can add that later.  Sokcho is awesome.  Everyone should go there RIGHT NOW!

And here's the finale.  A video of the seagulls flying overhead: