Fab Four find national financial fruit

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Fab Four find national financial fruit

The Beatles are among the most influential and legendary musicians in the world. Their fame and legacy is also unparalleled here in Korea.

But few could imagine that so many Koreans - particularly Korean youths - were counting down the days for the release the new digitally remastered catalogue of the Beatles’ albums. Last Wednesday, Warner Music Korea, which released the much-awaited remasters here, held a press event at the record shop in Kyobo Bookstore in Gwanghwamun. Hours before the release, about 200 fans were already crowding the shop.

According to the record company, on that day alone some 10,000 copies of the albums were sold online and offline. Together with the approximately 50,000 sales made by reservation in advance, almost all of the copies allocated for the Korean market were sold out. Initially, Korea imported 70,000 copies.

In Korea, industry sources say fewer than 10 albums sell more than 10,000 copies in a year. In that sad reality of the record industry in Korea, the Fab Four has apparently made a “fabulous comeback” and is rewriting history.

What’s more amazing is how so many young Koreans - who probably didn’t witness much of the Beatles’ heyday growing up - are responding to this collection, which took four years for a team of engineers at Abbey Road Studios in London to produce.

More than half of the crowd seemed to be either in their teens or 20s, which even officials at the record company said was pretty unexpected and surprising.

“It seems that the remastered albums retain the charm of the original recording while reviving it in a way that appeals to people today,” said music critic Lim Jin-mo.

Pop culture usually marks a generation, and is something that only that generation can identify with. More often than not pop groups come and go, spending just a short time in the limelight.

Music critic Song Gi-cheol says that the “Beatles have expanded the horizon for future musicians in terms of their longevity.” Although the music was made decades ago, the passion of the artists plus the perfection of their music is making people spend money, he says.

By Lee Yeong-hui [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

The newly remastered Beatles albums are making Koreans spend money amid prolonged sluggish record sales here. [JoongAng Ilbo]
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