“How is it possible that good music keeps coming from [Hongdae]? It doesn’t even sell.” These are the words from the documentary Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community in 2001. Spoken by the CEO of BGBG Records and tinged with a bittersweet note, it expresses mixed feelings towards the indie music scene in Hongdae, where he dually worries and feels grateful for the musicians who keep making the music that they love. At times, a background music soundtrack muffles the casual interviews conducted over a drink with member of various punk rock bands. And when they are audible, such as with Crying Nut’s bassist Han Kyung-rok, whose face becomes flushed and his speech slurred as he downs his beer, you can listen and imagine what Hongdae’s clubs were like in the ‘90s. As the interviewees speak facing the camera, you’ll find yourself nodding along to their stories set “back in the glory days” at a time when Crying Nut’s “Let’s Race a Horse” was a refreshing verse to scream along to at concerts and clubs, as opposed to today, where it’s just oversung and heard on drunken karaoke nights.
“Subculture” will continue to explore the indie culture of Hongdae with its second and final chapter throughout the remainder of July and on into August. Held on SeMA’s quietest floor above G-Dragon’s two-story exhibition, “Subculture” is free with a pass from the information center and is past the ticketing booth for “PEACEMINUSONE” outside the museum. Here, you’ll discover why your favorite cafés and restaurants are vanishing from Hongdae, and you may even walk out feeling righteous.