Take a Close Look at the Photo: These Rockers Were Clean-Cut Soldiers Just a Short Time AgoEvery young Korean man who is able in body and mind has a duty to complete a designated period of military service.
That is, in the eyes of the law. In practice, those with status, connections or wealth have been able to extricate themselves from service. And accusations of shirking have lately spread to certain members of Korea's boy bands.
But that is not the case when it comes to the members of Gosrak, who weren't lucky enough to get special treatment.
That was why, although it formed in 1995, Gosrak (which means "the best" in an old Korean dialect) was not able to release its first solo album until this year.
When the band began, it was dubbed one of the first generation of underground rock bands in Korea.
Each member of the band － comprising Lee Kyoung-won on vocals, Choi Yong-chan on guitar, Cho Han-dong on bass and Park Mun-chul on drums － had to serve in the army, hampering the development of their musical careers.
Despite this obstacle, the band found ways to go on performing in clubs and bars around Hongik University, a favorite spot for new bands to test-drive their tunes. They succeeded in making a name for themselves as one of the most notable underground rock bands in Korea.
The success of their 1998 single, "Get Up and Jump" led to a 1999 concert tour of seven cities nationwide. Early this year, they finally released their first solo album, "Monologue."
In this album they experiment with different kinds of music, refusing to stick to any specific genre. From traditional rock to techno, they have dabbled in nearly everything. A band member remarked, "We sought ways to reflect current musical trends by mixing up genres; by doing so, we tried to look for our own originality."
This band seems to enjoy treading an unfamiliar road.
In contrast with many other rock bands, Gosrak has tried to make a pitch to the general public as well, rather than limiting their appeal to existing rock fans. Cho Han-dong, the bassist said, "We write songs and perform on stage with the public always in our mind, to make them feel at home with our rather 'new' sound."
They have also released music videos of two songs, which again is quite a rarity among underground rock bands. In case of the song "Dokbaek" ("Monologue"), they used the short independent film "Bichang." For the song "Click," they created a three-dimensional animation. By increasing their accessibility, they say they believe the public will feel more comfortable with their music.
Gosrak will stage a concert on March 31 in Daehak-ro. For further information, call 031-921-1094 (Korean service only). You can find more information about Gosrak and some other independent rock bands such as Rotten Apple at spellsound.com (Korean language only), their label's Web site.
by Chun Su-jin