Tuesday, August 15, 2006

`Los Andes' Strikes Chords With Koreans

`Los Andes' Strikes Chords With Koreans

By Seo Dong-shinStaff Reporter

Inca Jho (Jho Young-dae)

Jho Young-dae had a life-changing experience in 1989 while walking past a music store playing Andean music on a Seoul street. Upon that first encounter with the music, he was electrified, as if a ``big hole was shot through my heart.’’

Jho, at that time pursuing a successful career as a copywriter, took his first trip to Peru and Bolivia in 1999. Later he quit his job and became a freelancer. Since 2002, he has taken annual months-long trips to Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, to learn more about Andean music as well as to organize and bring Andean music bands to South Korea.

``I thought I should answer my soul’s calling before I die,’’ the 45-year-old from North Kyongsang Province, who switched position from manager to band member early this year with the birth of the band Los Andes, said in an interview with The Korea Times. ``I just feel my heart pump so when I listen to or play the music. Maybe it’s in my DNA.’’

He has some theories to back up his DNA argument.

One established academic theory actually has it that the early Native Americans were the descendants of Mongolians, who some 17,000 years ago went southward by crossing the Bering Sea.

Looks also tell. Jho, who now goes by the name Inca Jho and wears his hair long, barely stands out from other fellow members of the band Los Andes, who are all native Ecuadorians.

According to Jho, in addition to the possible blood connections, there is one more reason that Andean music has special appeal for Koreans: they share similar historical backgrounds that seem to generate a common musical sentiment.

Whether the theories are true or not, Andean music has been gaining ground in Korea since its introduction here a decade ago. Los Andes, for example, has a sizeable fan base now. Their Internet fan club members now hover above 8,000 (cafe.daum.net/nucanchinan).

The band has met with Korean audiences through hundreds of 40-minute concerts on the streets, subway stations and world music festivals in and out of Seoul. Now they are scheduled to stage their first official concert in Korea next week, aiming to
``comb your soul’’ with pure sounds.

Andean music band Los Andes is comprised of, clockwise from top left, Luis Enrique Vega Cordova, Hunberto Farinango Cordova, Luis Umberto Saransig, Jose Luis Cordova and leader Inca Jho. /Korea Times Photo by Shim Hyun-chul ``Han,’’ a Korean cultural concept of lament that derives from the experiences of suffering under Japanese colonization as well as a long history of invasions due to geographical positioning, parallels the pathos that runs through the Andean music of South America, with its collective memory of some 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.

Reminds me of the 'good' old days at Berkeley... There was a performer in Cambridge using instruments such as these, he was probably S. American too, but he was playing music that sounded very much like Celtic music, according to the New Scot.

Some Korean music and song remind me of Native American music, but the people I've asked said they were different...

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