German Pop Duos Never Die; they Go to Korea
|About a year ago, I wrote an essay titled Is Gay Still an Insult? In it, I recalled walking into a small convenience store in a little hamlet outside of Daegu, South Korea and hearing the Modern Talking song Cheri Cheri Lady. Just a few months ago, while jogging around Hoam Resevoir in Chungju, South Korea, I heard Joy’s hit single Touch by Touch. At this point one has to ask, how many eighties pop songs sung in English, by native-German-speakers can one guy expect to hear in South Korea, in the early 21st century? Well, it seems now the answer is at least four.
A little while back, my wife and I were walking from Muhak Shijang, a local open-air market, to E-mart, Korea’s answer to Wal-Mart. As we strolled past a local TRY shop, we heard yet another Modern Talking song blaring over the loudspeakers. This time the tune playing was Brother Louie. (Don’t ask me why scenes from Once Upon a Time in America are featured in the video. I have no idea. All I can tell you is skip the movie, it was lousy.) At this point, you may have 2 questions: first what is TRY, and second why were they playing music that could be heard outside of the store?
TRY is a rival to BYC. Sixteen years ago when I first hit the R.O.K. (Republic of Korea), BYC was the under garment brand of choice for every Korean man I knew. The guys at my hapkido school wore t-shirts, tank-tops and muscle shirts with the red letters BYC stitched onto the left breast. Businessmen attending my classes, would come dressed in dark suits (often grey or green), black shoes and white socks with the trademark red BYC prominently displayed on the outside ankle.
As for why was the TRY store cranking out the tunes, many Korean retailers (and parks, and students, and bus drivers, and cab drivers, and next-door neighbors) seem to operate under the assumption that loud music is just a necessary part of life – kind of like shouting, breaking in line, and reckless driving. Also, I have read that the retailers are trying to re-create the lively, “carnival-like” atmosphere of traditional Korean markets. And let’s face it; nothing says traditional Korean market, like a German pop duo.
The story would have ended there, but just yesterday we were making our weekly walk from Muhak Shijang to E-mart, when we heard yet another Modern Talking song blasting out of the TRY sound system. This time we were treated to the end of You Can Win If You Want. We paused to listen, and as we began walking away we heard the beginning of the next song. It was none other than Cheri Cheri Lady, the song that started it all.
Thank you for reading my essay. I hope you enjoyed my work.