Tuesday, 12 June 2012

CD Retail Therapy in South Korea

Our trip to South Korea was not meant to be a musical holiday, but it is hard to resist finding out what kind of music shops exist in this most musical of lands and the range of classical CDs available to the public. I was not to be disappointed. For starters, South Korea has its own classical recording industry that produces its own CDs of Korean artists on international labels such as Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, EMI Classics, Sony Classical and Warner. The prices were very reasonable, about W15000-16000 for full-priced CDs and W24000-26000 for double-CD albums. Even imported CDs were not too expensive, about W4000-5000 more per CD.

Korean artists were rightly given pride of place in every shop I visited, with CDs by Myung-Whun Chung, Kyung-Wha Chung, Sumi Jo, Kun Woo Paik, Julius Kim, Hai-Kyung Suh, Son Yeol-Eum, Lim Dong Hyek, H.J.Lim, Sarah Chang, Han-Na Chang and many more widely available. It is hard not to fall in love with these wonderful  musical emporia, big or small. The best CD shop, according to my friend Pete Song of Universal Music, was Poong Wol Dang, somewhat inconveniently (for me) situated in Gangnam. Perhaps the next time! Meanwhile, these were the CD shops that I visited, with the damage amounting to hundreds of thousands of Korean won.  

KYOBO HOTTRACKS is attached to the humongous Kyobo bookstore, at the basement of Kyobo Building in Gwanghwamun. Very conveniently located and can be accessed by the Soeul Metro. The Classical section has a central shrine erected to the conducting supremo Myung-Whun Chung.

The only time I ventured south of the Han River was to COEX Mall, where one will find EVAN RECORDS. Its Classical section is a true piece of art. 

Another view of the wonderfully serene (other than the classical videos blaring in the background) classical section of Evan Records. One could just spend hours here.

Much smaller is this outlet of MusicKorea at Itaewon. Curiously, half of the shop-space is devoted to women's cosmetics. You know which side I went.

A small but quite respectable Jazz and Classical section at MusicKorea with many titles by Korean  artists, including Kim Daejin, Kim Soovin, Clara Kang and the ubiquitous Sumi Jo.

Jungang Underground Shopping Mall in Jeju City is your usual centre with long corridors, populated mostly by boutiques and fashion outlets, 

Jungang Mall's only music shop is BONO RECORD, which also has a small but satisfying classical selection. Kun Woo Paik's Beethoven  Piano Sonata cycle and Myung-Whun Chung's recording of Mahler's Second Symphony are available here. 

The high esteem accorded to Korean musicians may be found in this waxwork display at Jeju's International Peace Centre at Jungmun Resort. Sumi Jo and Myung-Whun Chung are on display along with other Korean greats like Kim Dae Jung, Park Se Ri, Baek Yong Jun, Hwang Myung Bo and Guus Hiddinck.  

This Japanese sushi restaurant (Backsa Sushi) in Jeju City chooses to display  a large  photo of Kun Woo Paik and his famous actress wife Yun Jeong-Hie as its most illustrious patrons.

A piano tuition centre in a side-alley of Jeju City. There are probably more all over the cities of Korea. Little wonder South Korea produces so many wonderful pianists!

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