All You Need is Now

Thursday, October 28, 2010

South Korean releases

South Korean flag
Pepsi have changed their logo since.

South Korea is quite unique when it comes to record buying nations, but I don't mean their own artists like Rain, but rather when Western artists had their albums released there in the old days. South Korea would often be as conservative as their polar opposite North Korea were and are totalitarian (this is an apolitical blog, as I'm just trying to set up the story here). The Ministry of Culture had censors who knew English and could decipher anything they deemed inappropriate á la Mary Whitehouse. Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in several east Asian nations like Singapore (they banned "I Kissed a Girl") and Hong Kong (under UK rule) had tracks replaced that had drug references, possibly including the Republic of Korea (no Western music apart from classical maybe crosses the DMZ). Many countries in those days had to cherry pick racy and risqué tracks that they felt could corrupt the young people. Korea did this a bit which is why I singled them out.
I have albums from Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Fleetwood Mac that are filtred, making them less desirable to some collectors possibly, so I found them at the local swap meet cheap. Tracks with cussing, gambling, or drug-addled sessions would be blacklisted and removed. I kept most of the matching US editions for the banned songs and removed artwork. Hello, I Must Be Going! from Phil Collins I just got and came musically intact, but was released months after it came out in the West. This was normal practise in those days there.
Piracy also hit the peninsula. Many LPs had poor quality sound and covers that looked like they were made with a Gocco or Banda machine as they were printed in one colour (So from Peter Gabriel in green is one I saw on eBay once)! I have Queens first live album Live Killers with normal colour cover plus a rare picture added from South Korea I managed to find locally, which had a track with bleeping (on true release). The sound quality wasn't quite on par with the one I used to have but not a total loss (I found the UK CD later). The official cassette of The Works in 1984 (not 1984!) had all original tracks unabridged, which must have meant that Seoul lightened up by then, or had nothing on it to take offence of, whatever the case may be, but eventually, Korean fans didn't have to miss out anymore.
A generation later, we find CDs in the country that mirror those in Japan, meaning bonus tracks can be obtained from Korean retailers as well, but for much less. My copy of Icon II: Rubicon from Wetton Downes was bought this way. One site duped me but another I was able to save after using a gift card. I can't seem to have lightning strike twice finding other CDs with bonus tracks, so I have to look to Japan or elsewhere.
I just had someone tell me he got an Ace of Base CD from a Korean eBay seller and wanted to make sure he got it right.
If you get anything that just says "Made in Korea", we realise that South is a given. The point of this post is that its another great place for collectors to look for imports, as well as the K-pop scene in which Rain reigns as I've heard. We have some expats in my area who would know more about him than me, but that's a post for another day.

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