Filed under: South Korea
He5 were from Korea.
The records from that time are very scarce, since they did not press that many. Even today when one of these records are re-issued, there is usually only a pressing of 300 copies. Due to this, there’s not a whole lot of information available about the early days of rock ‘n’ roll in South Korea.
One of the best sources of information is the website for the Psyche Van Het Folk programme from Radio Centraal of Belgium has a whole section on Korean rock music (as well as other countires / regions):
Kim Hong-Tak was one of the two leading figures in the early days of “Group Sound Era”, of course with Shin Jung-Hyun. Kim Hong Tak was guitarist and naturally leader of the group. Here, it seems better to put aside the question ” Who was the first?”. Because with this question of ‘the first’ or more properly ‘the Origin’, the answers will not is the same according to the questioner’s perspectives.
For example, if we take one perspective, in this case that of ‘popularity’, it will be the Key Boys of Kim Hong Tak which was followed soon afterwards by the Add4 of Shin Jung-Hyun.
A little remark. This Key Boys is not the ‘Later’ Key Boys who sang the smash hits like “Let’s Go To The Seashore”. or “Memories of The Seaside”, but the ‘Earlier’ Keyboys. They played some ‘Package shows’, under the name of the Lock & Key in the stages of the U.S. Eighth Army which settled in South Korea. Also they played at some new venues like ‘Music Listen Rooms’, ‘Live Music Salons’, or the traditional ones like in Cinema. [At that time the concert was held frequently in Cinema Houses. It was called as ‘Cinema Show’].
With these latter acts they were known to general ‘Korean’ public. They were nicknamed as the ‘Beatles of Korea’ – At that time this meant more similar to a ‘cover band of the Beatles’. [Because the stages in U.S Eight Army was for the Korean in the forbidden area for the evident reason of security. So generally a Korean group or artist who played there was a totally unknown figure to general Korean public].
In the mid-60s which prevailed by the worldwide phenomenon ‘Beatlemania’, the Key Boys, in molding the archetype of the Rock band (or Rock Group) who ‘sing and play’ [With the Kkokkirri Brothers, the Fools, the Kim Chies], became the pioneers of a new cultural phenomenon [we may now be able to say that it was the early days of ‘Pop culture’ in Korea]. And here lies one symbolic fact concerning the popular culture in general that 1964-1965, the period of their debuts coincides with that of the birth of the ‘Weekly Magazine’. With the time, the members of the Key Boys left the group: some Cha Jung Rak and Cha Do Gyun going to solos, some Yoon Hang Ki joining to the Korean Army‘s entertainment Unit which was sent to the Viet-Nam War, and finally Kim Hong Tak too. But Kim Hong Tak had launched his career of guitarist in a rock group. It was the He5.
Precisely speaking, the He5 was not launched by Kim hong Tak. According to the memories of its members, the group was found in the winter of 1967 ‘the five young guys’ all belonged to the Wha-Yange Entertainment Inc. had set up the group together; Han Woong (Rhythm guitar and vocal) issued from the Four Guys, Cho Yong Nam (lead guitar and vocal) from the Shin Jung Hyun and the Jokers, Yu Young Chun (vocal) from the Silver Coins, Han Kwang Soo (Bass) from the Kee Jin Sung’s Orchestra. For the connoisseurs, they were all ‘top-class’ musicians from the leading groups of that time.
And in this period Kim Hong Tak was still in the Key Boys. (Cf. Wha-Yang Entertainment Inc. was one of the enterprises who dealt with matters concerning the distribution of musicians and entertainers for the 8th Army of USA.- with the Universal, Dae-Young, Dong IL).
The He5 begins tis gigs at the Seven Club in I-Tae-Won (a small quarter of Seoul which is now well know even internationally for its diverse markets, restaurants and bars mainly for the foreign customers. This quarter was the bassist Han Kwang Soo soon afterwards was a challenge for the He5. Kim Hong Tak was recruited as a lead guitarist (So-called ‘first guitarist’ at that time) and Cho Yong Nam, the griginal lead guitarist of the band changes his speciality to bass guitar. The joining of Kim Hong Tak not only strengthens the group’s musical forces but also gives the occasion to the group of presenting themselves to ‘general Korean public’. So ends a ‘Boy’ period
I believe this album may have been a soundtrack, and some of the songs feature vocalist Yang Mi-Ran.
Catalog number 갸 12255 Sinsege Records of Seoul, Korea, released 1968.