Weld­ing metal mu­sic in met­al­work­ers’ Mul­lae-dong

The Korea Times - - FOREIGN COMMUNITY - By Kyung Lee yongsan­gle­[email protected] Kyung Lee is a con­tribut­ing writer to The Korea Times.

When Sin­gloud Lee launched the two-day fes­ti­val Mul­lae Metal City (MMC) five years ago, he had in­tended to pro­vide a stage for heavy metal mu­si­cians to per­form on as Hong­dae’s live mu­sic scene was shrink­ing from venue clo­sures.

But the an­nual fes­ti­val that started in 2014 — back this year for Satur­day and Sun­day — gen­er­ated a loyal fol­low­ing, at­tract­ing bands and au­di­ences from over­seas. Lee re­al­ized MMC was grad­u­ally weld­ing its mu­sic sub­cul­ture to Mul­lae-dong’s long-stand­ing com­mu­nity of met­al­work­ers.

“Play­ing metal on stage is a sym­bolic ex­pres­sion of all that metal whirring and grind­ing and sparks fly­ing out of the ac­tual shops,” Lee, an event plan­ner, en­tre­pre­neur and car­pen­ter, told The Korea Times. “And through MMC, I in­tend to in­tro­duce new de­vel­op­ments every year to re­mind vis­i­tors that Mul­lae-dong is a neigh­bor­hood that has made its liv­ing on met­al­work­ing.”

Each year, Lee has come up with a new ti­tle and theme based on his mis­sion to so­lid­ify MMC as heavy metal’s “Broad­way” in Mul­lae-dong.

For in­stance, in 2016, he reached out to Kim Kyung-seon of Dark Mir­ror ov Tragedy, a sym­phonic black metal band, to co-or­ga­nize a cel­e­bra­tion of what he es­ti­mated to be the 30th an­niver­sary of metal’s his­tory in Korea.

“We hosted 16 bands from all over the coun­try, while also invit­ing a Ja­panese band as our spe­cial guest,” Lee said. “And from what I’ve been hear­ing since that time, word on the street is that Mul­lae-dong is a must-per­form lo­ca­tion in Korea.”

Sup­port­ing Lee’s re­marks on how Mul­lae-dong at­tracts for­eign metal in­flu­ences to wit­ness and per­form along­side their do­mes­tic coun­ter­parts, Sebastian Suh, the lead singer of pro­gres­sive metal band Crux, added: “I must say it (metal mu­sic) def­i­nitely does make Mul­lae-dong look a lot cooler. Hell, even James Het­field of Me­tal­lica came to take pic­tures and that’s say­ing some­thing.”

Lee ti­tled his fes­ti­val in 2018 “The Sum­mit of Asian Metal Trade Union Part One” to sig­nify an open­ness to host bands from other Asian coun­tries, book­ing bands from Ja­pan, China and Tai­wan that year, as well as open­ing the door for Korean bands to per­form over­seas.

And no mat­ter how am­bi­tious he may be about MMC, Lee added that he him­self would not take home a sin­gle cent earned from the live shows he or­ga­nizes. He be­lieves it is a com­mit­ment nec­es­sary to grow Mul­lae-dong’s unique metal iden­tity.

“MMC is mean­ing­ful be­cause they are bring­ing in some kind of sup­port so that the event can still live on with­out fi­nan­cial suc­cess­ful,” Suh said. “In the fore­see­able fu­ture, just for bands to have a de­cent stage to per­form on may be­come some­thing that bands and fans alike end up be­ing ap­pre­cia­tive of.”

MMC can’t fit every band in its two-day lineup, so Lee or­ga­nized the con­cert ti­tled “Iron Man Spe­cial” for the first time this Au­gust to sup­port 16 other metal groups who didn’t make the cut.

“For pro­fes­sion­als who had pre­vi­ously quit or re­mained loyal to metal, Iron Man reignited their pas­sion to take up play­ing again,” Lee said. “It’s an event I’d like to re-or­ga­nize for next year.”

Ti­tled “All the Me­tals Lead to Mul­lae,” MMC of­fers 12 bands, in­clud­ing Rus­sian gothic metal duo In­ner Miss­ing, Ja­panese power metal band Il­lu­sion Force and Chi­nese death­core band Hor­ror of Pesti­lence. It’s held at Seoul Artspace Mul­lae, and tick­ets cost 29,000 won for one day or 39,000 won for two days. The en­try at the door costs 35,000 won each day and stu­dents pay a dis­counted 10,000 won. And Mul­lae-dong res­i­dents have free en­try.

“With all things metal that make up Mul­lae-dong, I hope the MMC could help re-mold the neigh­bor­hood into some­thing that tran­scends the con­cert halls to stu­dios, pubs and the daily trade of metal-based prod­ucts,” said “Alvin” Cha Hyeon-il, the bassist for Gost­wind, a band that fuses in­ter­pre­ta­tions of tra­di­tional Korean gu­gak and metal.

Visit fb.com/mmet­al­city for more in­for­ma­tion.

Korea Times photo by Jon Dun­bar

Sebastian Suh per­forms with metal band Crux at an out­door fes­ti­val in this 2018 file photo. Crux will per­form at Mul­lae Metal City Satur­day.

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