[ENTERTAINMENT]No Brain: Cerebral Antics on Rock Stage

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[ENTERTAINMENT]No Brain: Cerebral Antics on Rock Stage

"I am a boil on your body. I have no brain. You can beat me, but please do not kill me, I am already dead," screams the underground punk rock band No Brain, in its song "I Want to Live." The song is from their first release, which came out in 1998 and sold 30,000 copies. No Brain recently released its second album, titled "Viva No Brain," which has sold more than 20,000 copies thus far, an impressive number for a Korean underground punk rock band.

The band is made up of the vocalist Lee Sung-woo, the guitarist Cha Seung-woo, the drummer Hwang Hyun-sung and the bassist Jeong Jae-hwan. The band dubbed its style of music "Great Choson Punk," emphasizing that members are dedicated to their identity as part of a Korean rock band, though what they play is greatly influenced by Western punk rock. The band has been vocal about Korean social issues, such as the recent controversy over Japanese history textbooks.

At the recent Fuji Rock Festival held in Japan, Mr. Lee, the vocalist, ripped the Japanese national flag to shreds in front of Japanese fans. The audience's response? The 500 or so in attendance mainly cheered and applauded the band's shocking deed. "Some people, about 30, were annoyed and turned their backs, but the majority thought it to be just a rock band's stage antics," Mr. Lee told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition.

However, it seems to be more than a spontaneous act of destruction. The band's members said that the vocalist came up with the idea suddenly the day before the concert. The other members liked the idea and decided to perform a punk rock version of the Korean national anthem (a la Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock).

This anthem performance has caused a rift in opinion among their Korean fans, stirring up controversy especially on the Internet. Some people call the band patriotic, while others criticize it as disrespectful to tear another country's flag to pieces, no matter what the Japanese reaction was. Mr. Lee's defense to this is this: "The flag that I tore at the concert was not the current Japanese flag but the one used during Japanese colonial rule, with the design of the rising sun. That is not a symbol of Japan, but a symbol of Japanese colonialism."

At the same time, the band said that they do not welcome Koreans who consider the band members heroic patriots. "The controversy is much ado about nothing. What we did was just a performance at some rock concert, it's neither disrespectful nor heroic," Mr. Lee added.

The Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's recent trip to Yasukuni shrine, which stirred nationwide resentment in Korea, did not go unnoticed by this "Great Choson Punk" band. They plan to take some action. "We are going to stage a joint concert in Japan on Sept. 22 along with several Japanese rock bands. We are planning not only to sing but to also to stage some kind of protest against the prime minister's unacceptable deed, not only as a rock band but as Koreans," Mr. Lee said.

by Chun Su-jin

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