Korean Folk Music

“Minyo” is a term referring to Korean folk music

Minyo is rooted from common citizens, transmitted from mouth to mouth. Therefore, the origin of Korean traditional folk songs are almost impossible to figure out. Minyo is not constructed by certain rules or limitations, therefore it may vary as different people or people from different regions sings it. Also because there are no rules or limitations, Minyo tends to be emotional, reflecting the emotions of working-class citizens. Due to the fact that there is no original version of a Korean folk song, there is no certain or correct music copy of Korean folk songs as well, except for copies of general melody of the music.

Although Minyo was sung in daily lives of Korean citizens, Minyo was created mainly for laborers(farmers). While laboring, people sang Korean folk songs together, finding  joy in working as a union. However, as the society started to become modernized and get influenced by Western culture, Korea’s own traditional education, culture, and music started to lose its certainty.

There are various types of Minyo, differentiated by individual regions:

  • Gyeonggi-do Minyo:
    Smooth expression of emotion
    Clean and clear flow of melody
  • Choongchung-do Minyo:
    Very dramatic
    Big range of pitch
    Distinct vocalization: bends the melody
  • Gangwon-do Minyo: Mostly starts with high pitch and ends with low pitch
  • Hwanghae-do Minyo
  • Hamgyong-do Minyo: Twanging sound
  • Pyongan-do Minyo: Very emotional
  • Gyeongsang-do Minyo
  • Jeolla-do Minyo
  • Jeju-do Minyo