Why Korean Trot music is the original K-pop
The release of the currently airing hit drama Trot Lovers has fans asking, "What exactly is Korean trot music?" The simple answer is that trot may very well be the first K-pop that ever existed. Here's a little background on the history of trot music and why it's still relevant today.
Trot, whose name derives from the ballroom dance foxtrot because of its simple two-beat rhythm, contains seven five-syllabic stanzas and the performers sing in a unique vocal style called Gagok. Korean trot music is actually a modified type of Japanese music, enka, that was imported from Japan around 1910 when Korea was a Japanese colony. Once enka entered the country, Koreans made it their own, using it to express their dreams and sorrows. Despite the fact that the genre has been influenced by outside cultures, including Japanese and Western influences, traditional trot music represents the hearts of Koreans, and this is why the genre has endured. As an example of the continuing popularity of trot, here's a recent compilation video of the famous traditional trot singer Cherry Sa that has over 2.5 million views:
Even though the generation who lived at the peak of trot's popularity is aging and the genre experienced a steep decline in the 1990's, trot music refuses to die and its influence keeps popping up in modern K-pop and K-dramas. This scene from Trot Lovers is not only really touching, it also gives us a great glimpse at what trot music is all about. Notice the character's more traditional updo hairstyle, simple yet glamorous makeup, dangly earrings, and bright, sparkly dress.
Here is the full song "Red Pepper," originally by famous Trot singer Yoo Ji Na.
Trot has experienced several recent revivals by K-pop artists such as BIGBANG's Daesung and the young trot singer Jang Yoon Jeong.
You'll notice that as time progressed, the trot genre began to incorporate some of the distinctly Korean dance moves and expressions that have influenced modern K-pop's aesthetic. Many trot singers even have backup dancers that resemble modern K-pop more than traditional trot music.
Olympic Korean ice skater Kim Yuna has even recently done several routines to beautiful Korean Trot songs:
It's impossible not to admit that trot music is really catchy and kind of addicting! It's no wonder that it continuously pops back up in modern Korean media.
What do you think of trot music? Are you enjoying Trot Lovers? If you haven't started watching it, make sure to catch up HERE!