South Korea: In the past two years 2,607 songs have been banned



South Korea:
In the past two years 2,607 songs have been banned

The South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality & Family has caused distress amongst fans in recent months for a series of bans they’ve made on songs they considered ‘hazardous media’ to the youth. In this context, a representative clarified that a total of 2,607 songs have been banned by the Ministry during the past two years.

After much confusion and controversy, the deputy director of the ministry, Cho Rin, dictated their direction for banning music, reported the music news site All K-pop. Cho Rin explained: “We know that it has caused some controversy, but we believe that it is not a problem as we’ve been consistent with our evaluations. Depending on the person, lyrics can be interpreted differently. However, music has a large influence on teenagers, so we have no option but to be more strict with our standards of evaluation.”

Netizens criticized the ministry, asking if the action was only in response to the official website crashing after the influx of B2ST fans when they banned the song ‘Rainy Days’.

A representative clarified, “The panel discussion has been scheduled for some time now. For the panel, we have begun to analyze the 2,607 songs that have been banned for the past two years as precedents to the review.”

Time delay
When asked why the bans take so long to be made after the albums were already released and promoted, Cho Rin replied:

“In the past, we were able to evaluate albums before their release. As of 1996, however, that condition fell out of use and we are only able to evaluate albums after they’ve already been released. Because it also takes time, final decisions cannot be made until much time has lasped after the album’s release and promotions.”

The ministry also revealed that they will be opening a panel discussion on improvements to the system.

‘Inappropriate for youths’
In March 2011, SM Entertainment filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Gender, Equality, & Family judgement which deemed S.M The Ballad’s album as ‘inappropriate for youths’.

The Ministry of Gender, Equality, & Family deemed S.M The Ballad’s song ‘Another Day’ as inappropriate for anyone under legal age due to the lyrics’ references to alcohol (“Drunk on alcohol so that I don’t miss you” and “If you fall asleep drunk, you dream“).

Yet representatives of SM Entertainment are claiming this judgement to be ridiculous. One particular representative expressed their opinion to Star News, saying “We don’t understand why they would flag it for inappropriate content based on references to alcohol. They didn’t consider the charm of the song as a whole. Judging by specific words impedes the writers’ freedom of expression.”

Pop star HyunA’s summer hit song ‘Bubble Pop’ banned

The Korea Broadcasting and Communications Review Committee has deemed HyunA’s outfits and choreography for ‘Bubble Pop” to be “too sexual and not appropriate for broadcasting”. It has never the less already been viewed more than 11 million times on

The authority proclaimed that the music video for the song is “too suggestive and stimulating.” An excerpt from the statement states, “The part where HyunA shakes her hips is obscene.”

This decision has stirred some discontent in the Korean music industry. An official in the industry said indignantly, “There is no clear criteria or guideline to determine if something is obscene. If HyunA’s hip dance is a problem, then why is KARA’s butt dance okay?”

Other female artists are reportedly worried or outright panicking, for fear they might be subject to the same censorship. 

“Putting censorship on music even after death is like taking away the freedom of expression in the Democratic nation”
Yoon Il Sang, composer 

Sources and related news stories

All K-pop – 22 August 2011:

‘Ministry of Gender Equality and Family bans 10cm’s “Americano”‘

Yahoo News – 22 August 2011:

‘Pop singer G.NA’s “Banana” song banned’ – 6 August 2011:

‘Female Korean pop star HyunA’s summer hit song “Bubble Pop” has been banned’

All K-pop – 24 July 2011:

‘Ministry dictates their direction for banning music’

Nate News – 9 March 2011:

‘SM Entertainment files a lawsuit in support of S.M The Ballad’

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