OST Songs Before Hallyu: The Most Viewed Korean dramas Edition

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Nowadays, OST (original soundtrack) is an inseparable part of Korean dramas, it is impossible to imagine them without heart-wrenching songs. But what was the OST scene like before the real Hallyu boom?

A successful drama needs equally engaging songs, that would make you cry, connect you emotionally to certain scenes and characters. OSTs today are masterfully produced to suit the drama, so when you hear the song you immediately know what situation or character to expect. This type of songs is mostly performed by master OST singers like Baek Ji-young, Kim Junsu, Lyn, Ailee and other popular singers with characteristic vocals.

However, Korean dramas were not always like this. Originally, they only had instrumental soundtracks, much like movies do. The heart-wrenching OST music became a trend in the 1990s, and sometimes they were not even Korean songs, but famous foreign hits.

We have taken a look at the OST of the 10 most popular Korean dramas of all time (based on Korean viewership data from AGB Nielsen).

1. First Love (첫사랑), 1997, KBS2 , viewership rating: 65,8%

Song: Hwang Chi-hun: Naega neomaneul

2. What is Love (사랑이 뭐길래), 1992, MBC, viewership rating: 64,9%

Song: Kim Guk-hwan: Ta, ta, ta

3. Sandglass (모래시계), 1995, SBS, viewership rating: 64,5%-os

Song: Yosif Kobzon: Zhuravli

It may be a real surprise, but the OST of the famous Sandglass series, that was a landmark in the history of Korean drama making, is actually this very famous Russian song.

4. Heo Jun (허준), 1999, MBC, viewership rating: 63,7%

Song: Jo Su-mi: Burinbyeolgok

Jo Su-mi is a Grammy-winner Korean coloratura soprano and this song is somewhere between a riveting rock opera and a folk song.

5. A Sunny Place of Youth (젊은이의 양지), 1995, KBS2, viewership rating: 62,7%

Song: Jang Hyeon-cheol: Holleonseon moseubeuro

This is the series that made Hallyu star Bae Young-joon a national star in Korea, well before Winter Sonata.

6. You and I (그대 그리고 나), 1997, MBC, viewership rating: 62,4%

Song: Lou Christie: Beyond the Blue Horizon

7. The Son and the Daughter (아들과 딸), 1992, MBC, viewership rating: 61,1%

Unfortunately we were not able to dig up individual songs on YouTube from this series, only the opening sequence. The OST was composed by Choi Gyeong-sik.

8. Taejo Wanggeon (태조 왕건), 2000, KBS, viewership rating: 60,2%

The composer of this instrumental song is Kim Dong-seong.

9. Eyes of Dawn (여명의 눈동자), 1992, MBC, 58,4%

The iconic Eyes of Dawn series was the first commercially really successful Korean drama. The OST composer is Choi Gyeong-sik.

10. Jewel of the Palace (대장금), 2003, MBC, 57,8%

Song: Onara, composed by Im Se-hyeon. The song was specially composed for the series in 16 century style, with Old Korean lyrics. Although it does sound like an authentic Korean folk song, it is actually not a real folk song.

What do you think about the OST of past Korean series? Do you spot any similarity or rather difference between today’s OSTs and that of the past?


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Photo: Youtube

(Editing by Adrian Cheng)

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