Something New in An Old Way: 버스커 버스커


One of the best qualities of Korean pop during the 70’s and early 80’s was the lyricism that still dominates indie Korean bands to this day.  Busker Busker (버스커 버스커) is a current indie band that has this and more.  The arrangements are simple, much as you can find in other groups like “Standing Egg” and is difficult to invest with expressiveness and depth, yet Jang does this very well.

Like Standing Egg, Busker Busker is lead by a guitarist that sings and writes: guitarist and vocalist Beom-June Jang (장범준), bassist Hyung-Tae Kim (김형태) and also has a charming foreign drummer, Brad Moore (recently married) which is quite different. Busker Busker has finished their first album as of June and is still gaining in popularity.
Jang’s original goal was to “create a busking art group that focused on street performances and sought to bring an artistic cultural presence to the streets of Korea. His vision included all art mediums, not just music, and he sought to create festivals that would showcase the budding talents of local artists. Members of Busker Busker included university students, mostly from the Cheonan campus of Sangmyung University.” (cite)

For one of their songs, listen to the “Cherry Blossom Ending” (Video here) and 여수 밤바다 enjoy.

  • Creo69

    Latey I have been humming “Cherry Blossom Ending” often…just didn’t know the name of the song or the group until today…thanks:-)

  • Q

    Thank you for the post. I like Busker Busker. As for “Cherry Blossom Ending,” Koreans often think cherry blossom as a symbol of Japanese colonialism, but scientists tell somewhat different story:

    In 1962, botanists Park Mankyu and Boo Jonghue proved that the most popular kind of cherry tree in Korea, wangbeot namuin Korean, was not of Japanese origin but Korean. It is called wang, meaning “king” in Korean, for its supreme beauty. This cherry tree is considered to be among the best of the species because of its abundant flowers and the fact that its flowers bloom before the leaves, spectacularly adding to its splendor. The most popular variety of cherry tree in Japan is called the Somei Yoshino, which is the same species as the Korean wang beot namu. DNA testing and analysis of the two trees in Korea and in Japan proved this to be the case in 2001. The testing showed that the Japanese Yoshino was actually taken from Korea and then replanted in its country of origin at a later time. In 1933, the renowned Japanese botanist Koizumi Genichi reported that the Japanese sakura is of Korean origin. In 1992, Takaki Kiyoko, another botanist specializing in sakura, also claimed that the Yoshino sakura hails from Jeju Island. More evidence supporting this claim is that while this species of cherry tree is indigenous to Korea and can be found as part of the natural flora of Mount Halla, it cannot be found anywhere in Japan. (Biting the Cherry

    (H/T) JSTOR-Plant Science

  • R. Elgin

    Yes, per #1, IMHO that song is better than anything out in America, at this date. It exhibits all of the strengths of Gayo from the 70-80 era, only it is more sophisticated in the arrangement and mixing and is not dark in mood.

  • hacker

    Don’t comment much but Q how about letting a topic go for bit before you jump on your “mine is better than yours” bandwagon. Here we start out talking about a group and a guy who has a vision and of bringing an artistic cultural presence to a place that could really use it and you…..well what can I say?

    BTW – expand your horizons and look at some other sources before you mystically make the Cherry Tree like the mythical 4 Seasons.

  • hacker

    oops, better and knock out that “and” before the grammer police nail me!

  • Yu Bum Suk

    Where did they find their drummer? When they show clips of them hanging out they seem kind of deferential to him. Was he their teacher at one point?

  • Q

    Brad Moore started his career in Korea with teaching at kindergarten and later in Sangmyung University.

  • Q

    장범준 and 김형태 were students at Sangmyung University.


    In appreciating art, context matters.

  • hacker

    Q – How does mentioning that cherry trees in Japan are DNA matches to those in Korea and stating that the trees in Japan were taken from Korean have anything to do with art appreciation? One see’s a piece of art and appreciates it for where it is and how it excites the senses. Sorry, you can’t justify your post in my eyes as I don’t believe there is a connection between the original post and your comment.

  • CactusMcHarris

    Let’s listen to this song and raise our glasses to Q – he manages to leave a chocolate dragon everywhere he posts.

  • Wedge

    Beautiful: Q manages to bring up a nationalistic point regarding cherry blossoms. The man (or woman?) is relentless, and 100% predictable. Kudos.

  • R. Elgin

    I have to buy a CD of this instead of just downloading some mp3s. Apple’s crap store does not have the first full album with eleven songs on it. CJ needs to get their act together and distribute something better than poor recordings from that K3 show since that is all I could find in Apple’s store.

  • Robert Koehler

    Time and place, Q. Time and place.

  • StevieBee

    I don’t mean to be negative, or to gainsay the opinions of any of you ‘hip’ and ‘with it’ 40-somethings, but Busker Busker are limp, insipid and saccharine and I hate them very much indeed. You might also note that their supposed ‘indie’ credentials haven’t hindered them any from shilling for soft drinks companies and mobile phone networks.

  • KWillets

    I’m going back to my Shinee videos.

  • commander

    Sure beats manufactured K Pop.

  • R. Elgin

    “Stevie”, music is not about credentials. That is what some jealous individuals throw out here. Believe me, CJ Entertainment probably helped set up the promotional work and that is a part of modern business practices. If you think the guys should turn down a working opportunity out of some notion you have about music – well, that is just not founded in reality.

    As for the rest, it’s a matter of taste. Jang could have put more into the arrangements but as they are, it is just enough. This collection of songs are about a vibe and don’t have a lot of psychological dept. I really wonder if Jang had help with the arrangements though because the “Spring Wind” orchestration has got to be beyond his skills unless he has some stealth chops. I imagine CJ shaped this product a little bit.

    I would bet money that there will be a break now so that some renegotiation of contracts can be made. I bet that Brad has got an interesting visa sit-u-ation going on as well.

  • StevieBee

    R. Elgin – yes, it’s a matter of taste, and I’m sure there are a lot of women who agree with your opinion of Busker Busker. However, I think I’m going to stick with my present position, viz: that they produce nothing more than derivative, limp-wristed, watery guitar pop for audiences who find 2AM a little too threatening.

  • thekorean

    It exhibits all of the strengths of Gayo from the 70-80 era, only it is more sophisticated in the arrangement and mixing.

    First time I heard them, it felt like a more sophisticated version of Sanullim. Like their stuff.

  • CactusMcHarris

    #19 TK,

    I’ve got some Sanullim vinyl (which I haven’t listened to in more than 20 years) – now if I can figure out how to translate it to digital…..thanks for the reminder.

  • R. Elgin

    “Cactus”, you can now find a fair amount of older gayo on youtube.

  • CactusMcHarris


    I apologize – I read that at first as you can find a lot of gay on youtube, then realized my mistake, then laughed, then hung my head in shame for lack of reading comprehension.

    Any particular suggestions?

  • R. Elgin

    Here are a few in the guitar/voice vein. You can thank Park ChungHee for this format since, during the time this music was written, it was illegal to have more than one instrument and singer in a club.

    사랑이야 (the performance at EBS is what you want to see)
    This is a well-written piece as well.

    시인의 마을


  • YangachiBastardo

    StevieBee is right, this stuff is atrocious and pretty much as “indie” (whatever it means) as my grandma pasta.

    After listening to 2 minutes of this diabetes-inducing tripe, i had to rush to my trashiest k-pop playlist to recover

    (which currently includes Tahiti, She’z, Hello Venus, JJ Project, Gang Kiz, Nu Est, Tasty et al.)

  • R. Elgin

    Per #24, the only thing you got right was the word “trashiest”. I can not cure the taste impaired but I can send you tapes of silvio berlusconi reading the Bible.

  • CactusMcHarris


    As you lose your rage against the machine (if you do) you’ll see sometimes that the simplest things are the best, like the human voice. I don’t know why you needed K-pop as the antidote, as I thought that would have exacerbated your sugar shock. ‘Indie as my Grandma’s pasta’ – you are a funny man. What’s she use, that friggin’ orzo that’s tasty but hard to work with?


    Dang near spit up on the monitor, hoss – that was funny.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Cactus: in all fairness my grandma was a complete nutcase (well i know what you guys thinkin’, the apple doesn’t fall etc. etc.), i doubt she ever cooked once in her life.

    After a couple of glasses she was often making loud comments of dubious political correctness, you gotta forgive her: she was born in 1916.

    BTW no foot is too broken to prevent me from marching toward the Nectar of the Gods…

    And don’t touch crazy gramps Silvio, he’s sorely missed

    Happy Bung Bunga everybody

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