In 1966, Mao became troubled by the pervasive influence of Western music. He abruptly resolved the issue by banning Westernization altogether during the violent and disruptive purges conducted throughout his Cultural Revolution. Overnight, all things Western were banned, including Western-oriented classical music. Beethoven and Brahms were out, and traditional Chinese music was in. Along with other intellectuals, Western-tainted music professors were sent out to labor in the rice paddies, and their pianos were smashed and burned by Mao’s Marxist thugs. Some musicians went silently underground to wait out the siege. Others committed suicide. By all accounts, the upheaval was an unmitigated social and cultural disaster. The Cultural Revolution only ended with Mao’s death in 1976.
Source: Washington Times
1971-1992. South Korea. American songs, funk, hip-hop
During the 1970s, young Koreans were exposed to American funk music via the US Armed Forces Korea Network. A club scene arose in Itaewon, but in the summer of 1971, US-backed dictator Park Chung-hee orderes his police to round up longhaired Korean men and cut their hair, and as the decade wore on, he escalated his ‘social purification’ campaign, detaining artists, intellectuals and church leaders. Park Chung-hee’s censorship committee blocked hundreds of American songs, from ‘We Shall Overcome’ to ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’.
“Black music was considered illegal because it was not good for the youth. The only music allowed was folk music,” said Lee ‘MC Meta’ Jae-hyum of the influential Korean rap group Garion, through a translator to Salon.com.
“The music scene itself died. Influential music makers left the country.”
It was not until opposition leader Kim Young-sam became South Korea’s first civilian leader in 1992 that youth culture seemed to flower again.
1967-1992. South Korea. Isang Yun
In 1967, the South Korean composer Isang Yun was secretly brought back from North Korea to South Korea, imprisoned, and sentenced to death, for treason, by the ruling military dictatorship. An international outcry and diplomatic intervention by the German government secured his release, and he was allowed to return to Germany after two years in prison. In the early 1970’s he was appointed to a professorship at the prestigious Berlin Hochshule fűr Musik. South Korean government prohibited public performance of Isang Yun’s music because he had been openly sympathetic to North Korean’s nationalistic and self-deterministic political doctrines. The ban lasted until 1992. North Korea, however, founded the Yun Isang Music Institute in 1984 in Pyongyang, to study and perform his work. Today, both South and North Korea warmly embrace his legacy and his music is performed widely all over the world. Isang Yun was born 1917 in southern Korea, and died in Berlin in 1995.
1972-1979. South Korea. Shin Jung-hyun
Shin Jung-hyun – called the “Godfather of South Korean Rock” – was jailed for four months in 1972, allegedly for drug possession, after he refused to write a song glorifying military dictator Park Chung-hee. The military authorities banned his songs until Park was assassinated in October 1979. Shin Jung-hyun remains bitter about the dictatorship, but only because of the damage it did to Korean music: “[Dictators] try to seal people’s lips. Our dictator at that time imposed silence on influential popular stars, taking an oppressive measure on our culture,” he said to Reuters in 2006.
Source: Reuters, 21 December 2006
1970-1979. South Korea. General background
“In the history of Korean music, the 1970s was the darkest era. So many songs were banned, and so many musicians had to give up music,” writes Kim Seon-joo in a column in The Hankyoreh where he describes the era in the background of the banned songs.
1973-1987. Taiwan. Holo songs
“The censorship of music (in the period 1973-1987) affected grassroots culture and, because of its non-political nature, represented the most intimidating – even though it was not always explicitly felt – impact of an authoritarian regime on people’s mentality and everyday life,” said Government Information Minister Shieh Jhy-wey in 2007.
In 1973, the Government Information Office in Taiwan announced a set of criteria for songs. The compositions to be prohibited from release included those that exhibited socialist or communist tendencies or were depressing in tone, such that they might affect people’s morale. Also slated for prohibition, according to the Government Information Office’s criteria, were songs that contained absurdity, weirdness, obscenity, violence, rudeness, frivolity, sarcasm, melancholy, decadence or unclear motifs.
Among the natural human emotions, anger and sorrow were not acceptable, while only happiness or delight were allowed in songs. Even happiness had to be expressed with considerable reserve to escape the crackdown.
Although the censorship was aimed at songs in general, including those sung in Holo, Hakka and Mandarin, most of the banned songs were written in Holo – the language of Taiwan’s largest ethnic group – since the output of Holo songs was much higher than that of songs in other languages.