10 alternative Korean bands and artists you should get to know



Hallyu, Korean Wave, is a term you’ve probably heard a lot lately. From fashionable beauty products, food and movies, TV shows and music, Korean culture is quickly adopted globally.

When it comes to Korean music, we’re more familiar with K-pop grouts like BTS, EXO, BLACKPINK, and Red Velvet. However, their equally talented counterparts thrive outside of the traditional K-pop bubble. They are alternative bands and artists, who create music in genres like indie rock and pop, electro, hip-hop and R&B.

These groups and artists are not new to the South Korean music industry. Popularized after the end of the South Korean military regime, the country’s music scene has since seen a steady increase in the number of younger artists who are now part of alternative K-music.

10 alternative Korean bands and artists to add to your playlist


Image: Courtesy of Leenalchi / Facebook

The indie darling of the Korean music scene takes its name from Lee Nal-chi, one of the masters of the 19th century pansori, a Korean genre of musical tales performed by a singer and a drummer, and jultagi, a traditional Korean tightrope walk performance.

This alternative K-pop group, which started in 2018, is made up of seven members: vocalists Kwon Song-hee, Shin Yu-jin, Ahn Yi-ho and Lee Na-rae; bassists Jang Young-gyu and Jeong Jung-yeop; drummer Lee Chul-hee.

Even though all of the members are experts in classic Korean performance styles, the group is known to present their version of classic themes. These are mostly modern genres, like hip-hop and electronics, with a touch of traditional vocalizing styles and instruments.

Their songs “Tiger is Coming” and “Please Don’t Go” were very successful. Leenalchi even released the first as a non-fungible token (NFT). The group also promoted Korean tourism with a promotional video “Feel The Rhythm Of Korea”.

Neon bunny

neon bunny
Image: Courtesy of Neon Bunny / Facebook

Lim Yoo-jin, also known as Neon Bunny, made his first break as a keyboardist with rock band The Black Skirts. However, it was not until 2011 that the artist made her solo debut with “Seoulight”, for which she also won the title of Best Pop Album at the Korean Music Awards in 2012.

The singer-songwriter has dabbled in various genres over the years. Some of his notable works include the 2012 funk-inspired electro-pop extended play disc “Happy Ending”, the 2015 R&B song “Romance in Seoul” and the 2016 album “Stay Gold” – a new LP. tracks with synth-pop.


alternative K-pop artist
Image: Courtesy of @ kraejiyaeji / Instagram

Korean-American DJ, producer and singer Kathy Yaeji Lee, better known by her stage name Yaeji, made her debut in Korean music in 2016 with her debut single “New York ’93”.

Besides electronic hip-hop, Yaeji uses a variety of genres including rap, house music, and pop-art to express his perspective on topics such as race, beauty standards, and personal identity.

The versatility of the alternative K-pop artist is highlighted with songs like “Raingurl” and “Drink I’m Sippin On” – both of which are a sonic feast for the ears.


alternative k-pop artists
Image: Courtesy of @ cifika_ / Instagram

Born Cho Yousun, the electro-pop artist told Billboard, that she “decided to learn to make music and, inspired by Flume, Washed Out, James Blake and Björk, she took her computer and started producing electronic music.”

While his atmospheric electro-pop, with touches of R&B and techno, includes extremely light and dark tunes, some of Cifika’s popular songs, like “I’m Awake” and “Intelligentsia”, are categorized as the future genre. space-disco.

Her voice and hypnotic rhythms create a sense of intimacy, which is complemented by exquisite costumes and aesthetic designs. Talk about the same with Billboard, she said: “When I make music, I first visualize the image of my music because I have a background in graphic design. So when we execute ideas, I chat a lot with my visual directors, stylists, makeup artists, and producers. We are all artistic directors, together.

Cherry filter

Cherry filter
Image: Courtesy of Cherry / Facebook Filter

The South Korean group, led by singer Youjeen, was formed in 1997. Inspired by punk rock and ballads, the four-member group released their debut album Head held high three years later.

Besides their lead vocalist, the band includes guitarist Cheung Woo-jin, bassist Yaenhead and drummer Sonstar and have many popular albums, such as Rockster (2009) and Peace and rock’n’roll (2006), on their behalf.

There were several questions surrounding the name of their group. Explaining the same, they said the intention was to choose a name that is both male and female. Thus, here, “cherry” and “filter” represent respectively the feminine and the masculine.


alternative K-pop group
Image: Courtesy of @ spacebohemians / Instagram

The South Korean alternative rock group was formed in 2001 and was named after the starring film by Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson Nell (1994). The group, whose work is heavily influenced by the music created by the English rock groups Radiohead and Muse, consists of four members: singer and guitarist Kim Jong-wan, guitarist Lee Jae-kyung, bassist Lee Jung- hoon and drummer Jung Jae. -won.

Known for their psychedelic sound, the band has worked on 11 albums and numerous singles. Colors in black (2019) and Let’s go are two of their latest albums.


Image: Courtesy of @ hyukohofficial / Instagram

The four-member independent group, comprising singer and guitarist Oh Hyuk, bassist Im Dong-geon, guitarist Lim Hyun-jae and drummer Lee In-woo. Hyukoh was formed in 2014. The multilingual singer’s early years helped him infuse their songs with lyrics in Korean, Chinese, Mandarin and English.

The quartet rose to fame after appearing on Infinite challenge (2005-2018), a Korean variety show, and performing with South Korean singer IU.

Hyukoh is known for his exotic sounds and haunting visuals. The group’s discography includes an album, 23 (2017), and several singles and EPs.


alternative K-pop artists
Image: Courtesy of Bandcamp

The alternative K-pop artist debuted in 2014 with his debut EP meaning girl. All the songs were written by her when she was in high school. Of the eight songs, five were in English.

Speaking of meaning girl, she said: “I think writing music is like taking pictures, both ways of capturing the feelings and thoughts of a moment. I wrote the songs on this album to bring together images and monologues from my late teens and early twenties that sometimes thrill me, sometimes make me melancholy, sometimes leave me unsure or oblivious to my own feelings. His EP Silence, released in 2020, was also well received.

Black skirts

Black skirts
Image: Courtesy of @ holideez / Instagram

Jo Hyu-il, better known as The Black Skirts, debuted in 2010 with his album 201. It won Best Modern Rock Album for the same at the 2010 Korean Music Awards.

The independent rock musician moved to the United States during his teenage years where he was influenced by American music media, such as MTV and Rolling stone. But it was the studio album by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette. Little jagged pill who inspired him the most.

“Team Baby”, “Thirst” and “Good luck to you, Girl Scout! Are some of his other popular works.

Car, Garden

Drive the garden
Image: Courtesy of @ carthegarden / Instagram

Cha Jung-won started out as Mayson the Soul but changed his nickname to Car, the Garden after changing agency. The unique name, which is an English translation of his name – where “Cha” means car and “Jung-won” means garden, was suggested by none other than Hyukoh’s lead singer-guitarist Oh Hyuk.

The alternative K-pop artist has released his first EP, Jackasoul, in 2013. Dominating R&B and hip-hop, the artist has worked on three studio albums, several singles and two EPs. Photographer, Apartment and VS are his three studio albums.

Hero & Featured Image: Courtesy Neon Bunny / Facebook

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