Many people consider the 90s to be the ‘birth’ of Korean music, but did you know Korea was churning out top tunes long before then?

Let’s hark back a few decades or so to the 1960s.

Over here in the UK, the swinging 60s were a big time for music, with new genres springing up left and right and twice as many bands to play them, and let’s not forget The Beatles. Even with the Vietnam War wagering on, the 1960s were a good time for any music enthusiast. In South Korea however, the country was still recovering from their own war with North Korea, having signed an armistice just 6 years prior to the break of the new decade. Despite this, they not only fought along with their allies in Vietnam, but the South Korean music scene was pretty lively too, largely inspired by the American GIs stationed there.

So, let’s a look through time and see what Korea’s popular music was like.

1. The poses were exactly the same


“5th fingers-oeyo?”

Who knew Super Junior’s classic pose, was in fact over 50 years old? Classic indeed.

2. Lots of Hanbok


Lee Mi Ja


Though still popular amongst the older generation today, Trot was Korea’s pop back in the 1960s. Lee Mi Ja, pictured first, was one of Korea’s top Trot singers back then, and is still a legendary name today. She was also the first South Korean singer to perform in North Korea – as she performed in Pyongyang back in 2003.

3. But as in 2015, Korea was still a big fan of suits



Even 50 years ago, South Korea was bang on trend with their fashion

4. More bands played their own instruments


The likes of CNBLUE represent the instrument playing idols of today, but back in the 1960s it was commonplace for bands to have their own guitar in hand, and not just as a prop either.

5. They still had amazing hair


I don’t know about you, but I have the urge to get a beehive about now.

6. They were years ahead


Is this album cover 1969 or 1999?

6. And they had even their own Beatles


“Korea’s Beatles, The Key Boys”

Who are really good too!

Want to take a listen to some 1960s Korean hits too? Check out our playlist below for a taste.


About Author

Freya is the founder of UnitedKpop, steering the ship since 2011. She is a full time graphic designer with lots of love for her two cats. You can see Freya's portfolio at