South Korea: Censors attempted to silence hip hop group
Because the top-selling Korean hip hop group Epik High talks about social issues, the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism has tried to censor their songs, tells the group in an interview with The Korea Times
Epik High is a three-member hip-hop group whose fourth album ‘Remapping the Human Soul’ topped Korean music sales charts in January 2007 and made them one of the most popular musical groups in South Korea. The group consists of the two rappers Tablo and Mithra Jin, and the disc jockey Tukutz.
The Korea Times reported that the 27-track two-disc album has courted controversy because some lyrics deal with sexual crimes, war, education and religion. Staff reporter Cathy Rose A. Garcia wrote in the newspaper on 19 February 2007:
“Tablo can’t help but get passionate when talking about censorship, especially since he said the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is trying to prevent some of the songs from being played on the radio.”
Tablo explained to the reporter: “Most songs aren’t censored because of language. There are no cuss words or bad words. But if we talk about a social issue, we get censored. I don’t understand how discussing a social issue or saying that something wrong should be made right is bad for the youth… If talking about serious issues and reality and how to make it better is wrong; If we’re living in that kind of society, things are not going to get any better.”
Despite the censorship, Epik High is not about to change their style. The group is a firm believer in using music as an instrument for social change. Tablo said in the interview:
“We’re not going to say we’re not doing this because it might mean less album sales. If we think that, then we’re no longer doing things that we’re supposed to do. We’re no longer being honest with ourselves. As long as it’s our heads, in our hearts, we’re going to approach that no matter what.”
According to the Korean Music Industry Association, ‘Remapping the Human Soul’ recorded a total of 47,909 units sold in the first week it was on sale. This placed the trio in the top spot.