Youth Culture, Music

Us and Them: Korean Indie Rock In A K-Pop World

by Timothy R. Tangherlini

Documentary| 39:56 | Origin: U.S.A. | Filming: Japan, U.S.A., Korea, Republic of | 2014 | English, Korean Language

In a time when K-Pop dominates the airwaves, Korean Indie musicians are making music that breaks out of this corporate mold. Bands like Crying Nut and the Geeks are re-imagining the boundaries of punk rock, while bands like …Whatever that Means and The Rock Tigers are putting their own Korean inflections on forms as diverse as garage and psychobilly. This documentary takes you on a trip to the Hongdae neighborhood of Seoul and some of the underground clubs that challenge K-Pop hegemony. It also follows several of the bands as they embark on US tours. Filmed in Korea and the US, the documentary is a followup to Epstein and Tangherlini’s earlier ‘Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community’.

About the director

Tim Tangherlini is a professor in the Asian Languages and Cultures Department at UCLA, where he focuses on Korean folklore and popular culture. This documentary is his third, following “Talking Trauma: Paramedics and their Stories”, and a coproduction with Stephen Epstein, “Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community.”

Stephen J. Epstein is a professor at the Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. A leading voice in the study of Korean popular culture, Epstein also co-produced the documentary, “Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community.”

What was the best experience in making this film?

Getting to know the bands, and having great dinners in and around Seoul with bands and fans in the scene.

In what ways did you grow as a filmmaker in making this film?

Small crew filmmaking is always a challenge, and it was a great learning experience to have to adapt to the challenges of filming in loud, poorly lit urban areas. I hadn’t expected the audio challenges of cicadas, air conditioners and unmuffled delivery motor cycles…

What does this film contribute to the greater good?

People not familiar think Korean music is all K-Pop. We provide a different view into the creativity, drive, and good humor of Korean indie bands as they try to make it in this K-Pop world.

Screening Info

Date and Time:

Saturday, September 10 | 2:00pm – 4:00pm


Deutsche Schule- Classroom 3

Screenings / Awards

No Display

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