Shin-Um-Bal-Sa to breathe musical life to Sinchon
Shin-Um-Bal-Sa to breathe musical life to Sinchon
  • Park Se-ra
  • 승인 2011.02.25 23:20
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   It wouldn’t be the first time for the average Sinchon-goer to be skulking around town looking for something to do other than sipping coffee at cafes or chugging down alcohol at bars. Although they say Hong-dae is the “culture-topia” of Seoul, Shin-Um-Bal-Sa says otherwise: A group of people have gathered under the name “Shin-Um-Bal-Sa”, with the goal of infusing music and culture into Sinchon.
   “Shin-Um-Bal-Sa” is an abbreviation for “Sinchon-Umak-Balcheon-Saram” which means an association for people who dream of giving birth to a unique music culture in Sinchon. Although Sinchon nowadays is flooded with pubs, it was once the epicenter of folk music. Shin-Um-Bal-Sa has tried to revive this ousted, motionless culture for the past two years by organizing performances in the area, discovering the hidden special restaurants of Sinchon and creating regular get-togethers.
   “I felt sad to see these people wander around aimlessly in search of a unique culture of Sinchon, and how they were compelled to turn to the Hongik University area,” Choi Yoon-suk (’03, Yonsei University), the founder of the Shin-Um-Bal-Sa said.
   Choi believed that there were people out there scavenging for a cultural enclave. Then one of Choi’s colleagues suggested that Choi start off by creating a gathering with a restaurant owner who used to work in the music industry. Shin-Um-Bal-Sa started off with only five members.
   Shin-Um-Bal-Sa has progressed into a more stabilized and systematic group. As they intended to make a difference around the area and culture, they not only organized performances in Sinchon, but they also planned to create a culture that could actually take root. They established the basis by recruiting staff members, running a radio program, and holding meetings.
   “LuLu-Duguen Sinchon” is a radio program on the Mapo FM program that is run by the Shin-Um-Bal-Sa staff. One of the so-called corners of the program, named “Favorites,” discusses listener-recommended venues in Sinchon along with their stories. According to staff members, Shin-Um-Bal-Sa is currently undergoing a project to create a “Sinchon Culture Map” based on the stories.
   As fans begin to flock from various quarters and listenership increases, “LuLu-Duguen Sinchon” has expanded and is even on podcast now, so that people all over the country can listen to the Shin-Um-Bal-Sa program.
   “It was amazing how the radio playwrights lead the show in unique ways. For instance, my favorite DJ raps the stories instead of plain reading them out,” said Choi Se-rim (Computer Science, 2), a student who listens to the “LuLu-Duguen Sinchon” radio program from time to time. “Shin-Um-Gam-Do” is a bi-weekly meeting where people come and share their favorite music, selected according to a pre-set concept that changes every meeting.
   According to Cheon Hyo-jeong (Law, 4) a radio playwright for “LuLu-Duguen Sinchon” a number of indie bands and musicians showed interest in the gathering and have come to perform or introduce their music.
   “I think it was a win-win strategy for both audience members and performers. People seemed to be enjoying their aberration from daily life where they can peacefully spend time listening to music, communicating with musicians, and meeting people with similar tastes. For musicians, I guess it was the best opportunity to get their name out,” Cheon said.
   This year, Shin-Um-Bal-Sa plans on mustering more regulars as the top priority. Shin-Um-Bal-Sa is tightening up the community by running an online Web site ( and spreading news and information on Twitter (
   “The Sinchon music culture that we dream of is a little bit different from the Hongik University area where audiences merely observe the performances,” Cheon said. “We aim to be a ‘listener-oriented’ community where people can focus more on sharing and creating memories together, hanging out, and mixing with random people with a similar propensity.”

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