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Bridges over Han River in K-pop songs

Posted July. 11, 2015 07:07,   


Yanghwa Bridge, which has recently become the most-talked-about bridge in Seoul, has appeared most frequently in K-pop songs.

The Dong-A Ilbo has searched for songs that have a bridge of the Han River in lyrics or in title by key-word searching in the database containing over 3 million songs of a local web music player Genie (genie.co.kr). Yanghwa Bridge appeared in 14 songs including song titles.

Mapo Bridge (13 songs) and Seongsu Bridge (12 songs) are equal to Yanghwa Bridge when it comes to the frequency of appearance in songs. However, Yanghwa Bridge has made its presence with versatile appearance in theme, song title and album title of various songs. The biggest hit song with the title of Yanghwa Bridge is a rising vocalist Zion T’s song. Despite closeness to Yanghwa Bridge, Sungsan Bridge (1 song) and Seogang Bridge (none) have made almost no appearance in songs.

In the song Mal-uh released in 2014, Korean hip-hop singer Hwaji talks about Yanghwa Bridge as a starting point of decadent sleepless nightlife in Seoul. “Your precious girl treats me preciously/From Monday, Tuesday to Friday and Saturday/From Yanghwa Bridge/to Myeongdong and Cheongdam with shiny street light/The light is on at night, we open our eyes.”

Starting from Gayang Bridget to Gwangjin Bridge, 13 out of 23 bridges that connect the north and the south of Seoul appeared in two or more songs: Hannam and Jamsu bridges (respectively in seven songs), Hangang and Yongdong Bridges (five songs), Dongjak Bridge (4 songs), Banpo Bridge (3 songs) and Dangsan, Dongho, Olympic and Gwangjin Bridges (respectively in 2 songs). Hannam, Jamsu and Yongdong Bridges which appeared in hit songs in 1970s and 80s, such as “The third Hangang Bridge,””Jamsu Bridge out of window” and “Raining Yongdong Bridge,” are all ranked highly in the list based on the frequency of appearance.

There is a "bridge that the starlight falls on" in lyrics of the mega-hit song "Apartment" of Yoon Soo-il in 1982. Although the bridge’s name is not specified, Professor Shin Hyun-joon said, “Hinted from the lyrics that there is a reed field around the bridge in the 80s, the bridge is presumed to be Yongdong Bridge.”

Seogang, Gayang, Noryang, Cheongdam, Jamsil bridges and Jamsil Railway Bridge have never appeared in Korean songs.

In the third verse of Lee Yong’s song "Seoul," which starts with lyrics that "Let’s plant an apple tree in Jongno," Dongjak Bridge was mentioned ("As Dongjak Bridge is connected to the downtown /Born-again Seoul is a city of romance"). The lyrics shows that there was high expectation on the new bridge, of which construction started in 1978, at that time when two years were left before its completion.

Names of bridges over the Han River started making comebacks to lyrics after 2000, mostly in lyrics of rap songs.

Boy group B1A4’s song "Seoul,” which came 32 years after Lee Yong’s Seoul, describes loneliness in crowd of a bustling city and longing for a loved one ("Black building, black street, among people under black shadow. Without you I have no place in this big city"). In the rap part, the song talks about Hangang Bridge ("In the city colored in orange glow, I am walking on the shiny Hangang Bridge. I feel lonely in the cold air").