When I was living in South Korea, I remember thinking that here was a country desperately in need of psychedelic drugs. Ethnically, liguistically and culturally homogenous, the Koreans might have gained from the radical perspective shifts and individualizing effects of a heavy dose of acid. Heck, they don’t even get stoned much; their drug of choice is alcohol, and everything from popular music to shop signage suffers from a lack of available hallucinogens. For reasons I don’t understand, Japan seems to be experiencing a permanent acid trip, but the same cannot be said of its East Asian neighbors, Korea and China. (India, of course, is so bewilderingly psychedelic as to be off the charts; I would even argue that India is more violently psychoactive than LSD, and more likely to make you vomit than peyote. And now that South Koreans have begun to appear on the Indian backpacker circuit, I wonder whether psychedelics will begin to appear in Seoul.)
I mention all this because my friend Daniel Kleinfeld has alerted me to a curious website documenting the history of Korean psychedelic rock and folk music. Now, I haven’t a clue what these records sound like, but a perusal of the album covers suggests that they were designed to mimic American and British album covers, but without the help of any psychoactive substances for the Korean graphic artists. They are, in a word, square. (Stylistically, I mean; they’re also square in shape, but you didn’t need me to tell you that.)
If anyone out there knows more about Korean psychedelia, then by all means, let me know. In the meantime, let’s do our part for Korea’s national development by getting all our Korean friends really, really high.