Korean Music Awards to Honor Quality
By Han Sang-hee
The Korean Music Awards (KMA) will be held March 30 this year, and the organizers have promised another year of fairness and diversity.
``The Korean Music Awards has gone through a rough time for the past couple of years after the government decided to stop supporting it. But thanks to fans and firms that noticed the importance of such an event, the KMA is now back on track,'' Kim Chang-nam, the KMA committee head and head of the jury, said during a press conference at cultural space Platoon Kunstehalle, southern Seoul, Tuesday.
The event has 25 categories, including the Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Netizens' favorites and a Life Achievement Award.
Singer Lee So-ra was nominated in five categories― the Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Musician of the Year, Best Pop Album and Best Pop Song ― the most among fellow singers. This year's Life Achievement Award will be given to folk singer and composer Jo Dong-jin.
A total of 60 music experts, radio show producers, critics and journalists participated as judges this year, adding eight to the previous 52.
``We are planning to add more judges to the panel in the following years. It's important we don't miss any good songs or bands and with various experts working together, we hope to discover talented bands in the future as well,'' Kim added.
Numerous award events are held by networks and music labels at the end of the year, but these star-studded ceremonies have been criticized for being too ``star-oriented'' regardless of musical talent and potential. However, unlike such events at which idol bands dominate not only the winners but also the nominees, the KMA was launched to deal with various genres and artists both mainstream and not as well known.
While idol bands such as Girls' Generation and Brown Eyed Girls were nominated for the Album of the Year and Song of the Year, respectively, this year, relatively unknown bands were also chosen, including the Black Skirts, Swallow, 3rd Line Butterfly and Gukkasten.
``We have been criticized for giving out awards to singers and bands that are not popular and ignoring popular bands, but this is not true. We have given awards to numerous `mainstream' bands, including Big Bang and the Wonder Girls, and we plan to continue this. Our aim is to recognize all genres of music, not just on one specific popular genre at the time,'' said Park Eun-seok, one of the judges and also a music critic.
Last year, the KMA was held in a smaller venue than before, which was a result of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism choosing to stop giving 30 million won to promote the event. The ministry backed out a week before the actual award ceremony, disappointing both organizers and fans.
This year, however, the KMA will have a fresh start, as more firms and fans have started to recognize its goal to create a practical and fair event for everyone.
``The problem of the current music scene in Korea is that we don't recognize the diversity of genres. However, there has been small movements where listeners have started to appreciate other genres, and we want to pull them out from the shadows, give them credit for their great work and share their music with the public,'' Park said.
The Korean Music Awards will be held at Platoon Kunstehalle, March 30. For those who are interested in casting their vote for the Netizens' choice category and wish to see the whole list of nominees, visit www.koreanmusicawards.com. Votes can be cast between March 15 and 27.