Korean traditional music has a popularity problem among Korea's contemporary audiences; given the choice of what to listen to, few South Koreans choose to listen to gugak. To address and overcome this popularity problem, traditional Korean musicians are negotiating and reconstructing traditional Korean music by adopting, appropriating, and altering elements of Korean and international pop music. To this end, Gugak groups recently have been incorporating western musical practices and aesthetics in their performances in digital platforms (YouTube and reality television programs) and in concerts to contemporize the genre and develop a more positive relationship between Koreans and their national music. Groups like E-sang are redefining and re-inventing Korean folk music worldwide as something I call "pop gugak." New pop gugak is in the process of reconstructing the meaning of Korean-ness.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Ellis, Jessica, "Pop Gugak and E-sang: Negotiating Traditional and Pop Genre Categories in Expressions of Identity" (2023). Theses and Dissertations. 10046.
Gugak, Korean traditional music, Korea, folk music, boundary-making