Label Market Stimulates Underground Musicians


Albums fill one wall in Label Market, a market/exhibition venue for underground musicians at Sangsnag Madang near Hongik University, northern Seoul
/ Korea Times Photo by Kwon Mee-yoo

By Kwon Mee-yoo
Staff Reporter

A Label Market dedicated solely for indie music or independent music is now open at Sangsang Madang, located near Hongik University.

In the seven-story Sangsang Madang, this market/exhibition space embodies the cultural figures of the Hongik University area (Hongdae).

The yellow and orange walls on the third floor of Sangsang Madang dispaly some 85 albums from various indie labels and bands. CD players and stools are installed for visitors to sample the music of these underground musicians. The market will run through Jan. 27.

Albums of groups such as Nervous Shirt, The Moonshiners, Oh! Brothers, Cabinet Singalongs, Kebee, Plastic People and many more are available at the Label Market. There are independent labels by Chaekit Company, Soul Company, Cavare Sound, Coda Entertainment, Ruby Records, among others.

“The idea of Label Market came from the characteristics of the Hongdae area. There are lots of clubs where underground musicians showcase their music,” Hong Hyun-sun, the manager of art market, told to The Korea Times. “The cultural value of underground music is rising but they still don’t have proper channels to connect with the general public. We provide the venue for interaction between musicians and audience.”

According to Hong, about 300 people visit the Label Market on weekends. “More people than we expected buy albums after listening to them. Though this place is named as an art `market,’ profit is not the most important thing,” said Hong.

The exhibition changes every month or two. Previous events of the market include illustrations (“Non-mainstream Visual”), calligraphy (“Penmanship Talks to Books”) and original paintings of cartoonists (“Lost Mythology”). All these projects focused more on displaying the works to the public rather than selling them.

“Label Market got a good reaction from both musicians and visitors. We plan to make it our periodical exhibition,” Hong said.

There was a mini concert of bands of EGG Music, “Dusty Blue,” “The Mun,” “Ironic Hue” and “Hi! Mr. Memory” on Sunday. Many people gathered around to join the unplugged concert.

Pak Kyung-hun, the president of EGG Music, expressed satisfaction. “Indie bands do not get many opportunities to be exposed to the public. The same people, indie music lovers, come to our concerts over and over again since it is hard for us to be on television or radio. I drop by the market from time to time and see various people come and listen to the music freely. I hope this market continues and more labels can take part in it,” Pak said.

Park Min-jung, 24, who came by the Label Market with her friend, said, “I have heard of this place before, but it’s my first time here. The place seems emptier than I expected but it is nice to see all these indie albums together. It’s hard to find these albums in other record shops.” She listened to the music of Sugarbowl and The Moonshiners with a smile.

There will be small concerts featuring participating bands on weekends. Leopon at 8 p.m., Jan. 19; hip hop-specialized label Soul Company at 5 p.m., Jan. 20; Chaekit Company at 6 p.m., Jan. 26; and Sugarbowl at 7 p.m., Jan 27.

In addition to the art market, there is a gallery, cafe, photo studio, concert hall and movie theater in Sangsang Madang.

Located near exit 5 of Hongik University Station on subway line 2. For more information, visit or call (02) 330-6225.

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