The success of hopelessness

the evolution of Korean indie music


  • Hyunjoon Shin Sungkonghoe University



Hongdae, indie music, Korean popular music industry, Seoul, youth, space/place


K-pop has been the most commercially successful music genre in South Korea since the mid-1990s, as noted by many Asian popular music scholars. By contrast, an underexplored topic is local indie popular music, which experienced a surge in popularity during the 2000s. This paper examines these indie scenes and Boongaboonga Records—a key organization that originated in the Gwanak region of Seoul, and later relocated to the Hongdae region, known as the hub for Korean indie music. It argues that the unique connection that the label and its indie bands have with these specific locations tie into their collective ability to give voice to a young generation affected by political and social change. It also considers the new business model for the record label and how this has developed from these circumstances and the cultural space it inhabits.

Author Biography

Hyunjoon Shin, Sungkonghoe University

Hyunjoon Shin is a ‘Humanities Korea’ professor at the Institute for East Asian Studies (IEAS) at Sungkonghoe University. His research focuses on Korean popular culture and popular music, as well as inter-Asia cultural studies.


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How to Cite

Shin, H. (2012). The success of hopelessness: the evolution of Korean indie music. Perfect Beat, 12(2), 147–165.