Rock Band's Message Merits a HearingAt first sight, the underground rock band Pu Peong Chung (Blue Punk Bug) looks distinctly disagreeable. Baggy pants, scowling faces － the kind of guys you wouldn't bring home to mother. A reporter found it hard to stomach one of the band's songs, "Don't Press," with lyrics that jeer at journalists: "Press, I want to tear you in pieces... Are you trying to cheat and to tell lies again?" Conservative Koreans, accustomed to unthreatening, comely dance groups, are also apt to balk when this punk rock band shows up.
However, it must be said that this band is noteworthy for the very straightforward and defiant message it champions. Seen from a different angle, the boldness Pu Peong Chung testifies to when it sings these "outrageous" songs can be interpreted as refreshingly unpretentious and candid. After all, they are just being faithful to their music － punk rock music － a part of rebellious youth culture.
Consisting of the vocalist Kang Min-byung, the guitarist Park Sung-ho and the bassist Lee Kyu-young, the band began to try to turn ambition into reality in 1998, releasing the song "Eodumeui Jasikdeul" ("Sons of Darkness") in 1999, on a compilation album that featured several independent rock bands. The same year, they released their first single, with the A-track "Bbang" ("Bread"), along with their first album, called "Pu Peong Chung."
They continued to pursue recognition in 2000 with the release of their second album, "Tough Like Metal," featuring the anti-journalist screed, "Don't Press." They contributed a song, "Bomnaleun Ganda" ("Days of Spring Pass"), to the original soundtrack for the Korean film "Seom" ("The Isle"). The movie was later invited to the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
The band has succeeded in charming some critics because their fierce message is backed by good technique. The music they create is a well-constructed mix of heavy metal from the '80s and punk rock from the '90s. Underlying their distinctive sound is a good dose of talent.
Another reason why this outwardly unappealing band is getting such a good response is the band's adamancy about its style of music. Unlike other groups, whose music seems to be a product unrelated to the lives and experiences of the group members, these young men's music reflects their lives, and those lives are outside the music industry. The vocalist, Mr. Kang, has a job that requires him to work 24 hours every two days; the guitarist, Mr. Park, designs and produces Web sites; the bassist, Mr. Lee, is currently completing a university degree in education. They write and perform their own music, producing albums by and for themselves, earning elsewhere the money they need to live on their own.
So it is not surprising that these impassioned musicians create a sound outside the usual sphere. But it remains to be seen whether this defiant yet talented band will get a hearing from the public.
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