The Popularization of Gugak: A Case Study of the MIJI Project, a Gugak Girl Group

Inhwa So


As an aspect of cultural policy, the Korean government has made efforts to popularize Korean traditional music, gugak (“national music”). One way of doing so has been to offer financial support for gugak groups. MIJI, a gugak girl group, is one of the beneficiaries of this support. On the basis of the government funding, in 2008 the LOEN Entertainment Company began to manage the group in 2008. However, in 2010, the group was considered unsuccessful in achieving its original goal of providing a successful model of a gugak band by the scheduled year, 2011. In 2012, the group nevertheless became active again. An analysis of the project and its processes reveals the present situation of gugak in Korea and the problems involved in its popularization. Furthermore, through this process we are able to gain insights into the role of the Korean government in the promotion of gugak, through the long-term measures the government can take to popularize gugak; for example, by developing projects to connect performing music artists with the pop industry in a sustainable way, by increasing gugak programming in mass media and by strengthening gugak education in school.


gugak; government; Korea; popular music; MIJI

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