Historically Korea and Japan have gotten along about as well as vinegar and baking soda. That can’t be said for the punk scenes of the two countries, which have been best of friends as far back as anyone can remember.
The longest-running bilateral punk collaboration would have to be the Korea/Japan Punk Festival, first held nine years ago on June 26, 2003 in legendary Hongdae punk club Skunk Hell, with nine of Korea’s best punk bands and seven bands from Japan. The following year, it was held in Anti-Knock in Tokyo.
Since then, it has been held almost every year, with the Korean shows moving to Club Spot after Skunk Hell’s closure. This year the festival is moving to the much larger and better-lit Prism Hall over by Hotel the Designers for its fifth time being held in Korea (ninth overall).
This year’s show brings a diverse selection of 17 great Korean bands, both young and old, together with five Japanese bands. One highlight should be the Discocks, a legendary Japanese band formed in 1992 that directly inspired the infamous Korean band Couch and Seoul’s pogo-punk scene of the mid-2000s. We’ll also get to see the Erections and 00squad, both who played the Japan/Korea Punk Festival last year. We’ll also get to see Osaka pogo band Beer Belly (who are promoted for this show as Bearbelly) and the Foolishness.
Some of the Korean highlights will be Korea/Japan Festival veterans Rux, Skasucks, and Daejeon’s Burning Hepburn, as well as talented newcomers the Veggers and Dead Buttons, and new bands with veteran Korean punks 100 Blossom Club (with members of Spiky Brats, Cockrasher, Dirty Small Town, and the Patients) and Heimlich County Gun Club (featuring Paul Brickly, former guitarist of Rux and Suck Stuff).
Previously, the festival was known under the name Korea/Japan Oi! Fest, then Korea/Japan Oi/Punk Fest. The festival was first organised in Korea by Won Jonghee (lead vocalist of Rux and manager of Skunk Hell and Skunk Label) and Shin Hyeon-beom (Couch vocalist/guitarist). This year’s festival is being managed by Ryu Jin-seok (lead vocalist of Skasucks).
The Korea/Japan Punk Fests always make for great shows, as all the bands and their supporters always put on a big show for their Japanese guests, and the Japanese bands in turn always put on great performances. International friendships are made and the wheels are set in motion for future Korea/Japan punk collaborations, and you’ll never hear as much English spoken at a Korean punk show, as everyone falls to the common language for communication.
This show starts early at 2 pm because there are more than 20 bands to get to, but expect things to move fast as the bands whip through shortened versions of their sets to make time for everyone else.
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