Culture of South Korea

The contemporary culture of South Korea developed from the traditional culture of Korea, but since 1948 due to the division of Korea, it has developed separately from North Korea’s culture.

The industrialization and urbanization of South Korea have brought many changes to the way Korean people live. Changing economics and lifestyles have led to a concentration of population in major cities, especially the capital, Seoul, with multi-generational households separating into nuclear family living arrangement

Popular music

Many Korean pop stars and groups are well known throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. K-pop often features young performers.

The pop music of Korea which was constantly developing was arranged by many musicians. In the 1970s and 1980s many musicians appeared. Cho Yong Pil was the most renowned musician in that period. He introduced many sources such as the use of synthesizer. Among his influence, he is well-known for popularizing rock music.

The emergence of the group Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 marked a turning point for Korean popular music, as the group incorporated elements of American popular musical genres of the 1990s.

Popular artists who diverge from the K-pop sound include BoA, Super Junior, Wonder girls, DBSK, 2PM, Davichi, BEAST , Lee Hyori, Rain, Shinhwa, U-Kiss, 2NE1, SS501, Kara, MBLAQ, SHINee, Girls’ Generation and many other artists. South Korea is also home to its own form of hip hop artists, including MC Mong, Epik High, Dynamic Duo, and Big Bang. One of the most popular boy bands is TVXQ, who has not only achieved fame throughout South Korea, but also much of East Asia as well specially in Japan under the name of Tohoshinki. In addition, BoA is the first non-Japanese artist to get widespread recognition in Japan, being the best-selling artist in the Oricon Chart, and second ranking after Ayumi Hamasaki. For that reason, BoA was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador, and has since contributed to restoring the good relations between Japan and South Korea. This sometimes leads the artists to debut in the other countries and stay active.

Some songs from popular groups formed dance crazes, such as “Mirotic” by TVXQ, Tell Me” and “Nobody” by the Wonder Girls, “Sorry Sorry” by Super Junior, “Oh!,” “Run Devil Run,” and “Gee” by Girls’ Generation, and “Nu ABO” by f(x). These dance crazes would often spread quickly throughout Asia, inspiring many people to imitate them in talk shows, commercials, and even political campaigns. Because of their addictive sound and inspired dance crazes, some of these songs have subsequently won musical awards, such as the “Song of the Year”.

In addition, there is also traditional Korean pop music, or trot. Appealing to older Koreans, there are many popular singers, including Tae Jin Ah, Na Hoon-a and Song Dae Kwan, mainly in their 50s and 60s, if not older. However, it has recently experienced a resurgence due to the popularity of Jang Yoon Jeong, a young semi-trot star who had a breakout hit with “Omona.”


Karaoke is most commonly called “Noraebang” (노래Ħ, literally, “song room”) in Korea, but the Japanese-derived Garaoke/Karaoke (가라오케/카라오케) and various Korean alternatives like Norae yeonseupjang (노래연습장), or Norae yeonseupshil (노래연습실) are also sometimes used. Noraebang is even conducted in transport vehicles such as tourist buses. Noraebang is the equivalent to the Karaoke-Box in Japan, whereas singing before an audience of a karaoke bar is called Karaoke (카라오케) in Korea.


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