South Korea Profile
The explosion of K-pop as a global phenomenon when Psy's 2012 ‘Gangnam Style’ became the first YouTube video to reach one billion views should not blind us to South Korea’s vibrant and wide-ranging musical life.
Ironically, the country’s widespread adoption of Western culture had fuelled a revival of interest in local styles and ancient traditional instruments, such as the gayageum (plucked zither).
Formal styles of court, aristocratic and religious music continue to thrive, comprising both instrumental and vocal forms.
A profusion of folk styles involving pentatonic song, percussion bands, mask-dance plays and staged shamanic rituals are also hugely popular.