Shin Joong Hyun: A rock'n'roll revolutionary


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The Independent Culture

An obscure outpost of psychedelia is about to get some exposure. Light in the Attic's latest discovery is South Korean visionary Shin Joong Hyun.

As a pioneering musician, writer and producer, this figure could have shaped the direction of his country's native pop and rock scene for decades, but his career was derailed by the idealism of US psych-rock. What made the biggest impact though, was hearing Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane.

He inserted the latter's "Somebody to Love" into his sets to great acclaim. The army even commissioned a performance with distorted film projected behind. "People were yelling "Psychedelic!" and I thought that was psychedelic music," he says.

South Korea was ruled by a military junta that through the Sixties had been happy to allow an innocent youth culture to thrive, but in 1972 they flexed their muscles and asked Shin to write a song for their leader Park Chung-hee.

He turned down two requests and instead devised the 10-minute title track "Beautiful Rivers and Mountains" on his new album, a celebration of his country with no mention of dictators. Paid work dried up and in 1975 Shin was arrested for marijuana possession, leading to torture and confinement in a mental institution. He survived – his music lasts with him.

'Beautiful Rivers and Mountains' by Shin Joong Hyun is out now on Light in the Attic