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First thing I saw on my first night in Seoul in '87 was a disco with a live guitar band at the Tower Hotel.


South Korea adapted pretty quickly to guitars and guitar music as well as a lotta other "western" music and a degree of western lit and art.


North Korea... not really. I think there traditionally has been a bit of Russian cultural influence dating back even before the Japanese occupation the first half of the 20th Century.


But my Korean friends have suggested that NK is ... different.


Still, I think it's a bit more different for Asian cultures in general to have picked up the guitar because it wasn't a folk instrument, nor our "scales" part of their folk culture.


The Korean "rock" band I heard 25 years ago in Seoul was together, but as "we" are used to hearing, it was pretty freely performed as per the musicians' "internal book of music" as one would have expected a creative "western" group to play in Brisbane or Chicago or London. Carrying in ways cultural musical values, but still emphatically "Rock" the young Americans understood perfectly.


I'm not sure one does much "freely" in North Korea.



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