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Comparative Characteristic of the Music Industry in Turkey and North Korea


The world’s music industry has experienced dramatic changes recently. The behavior of listeners, the laws of the music market, and the foundations of the huge industry – digital revolution – have made enormous changes in the musical industry. Different world regions are characterized by the different directions in the music industry. Despite the dissimilarity of the social and spiritual cultures of various countries, for example, such as Turkey and North Korea, their common characteristics of the music industry unify the universal laws of the social development.

The Overview of Turkey

The Republic of Turkey is the state located in the Middle East. The bigger part of its territory is located in Asia, and the smaller one – in Europe. These parts are divided by the Dardanelles Strait, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus Strait that have a key strategic importance and form the waterway connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. The overland border has the length of 2628 km, and the coastline – 7168 km.

Turkey is the parliamentary republic, legislature in which belongs to the Supreme People’s Assembly. The executive power in Turkey is assigned to the president and the government is headed by the prime minister. The Republic of Turkey was proclaimed on October 29, 1923. It occurred after the victory of the national liberation movement led by Mustapha Kemal, known as Ataturk since 1934. At present, Turkey is one of the most densely populated European states with the population of 76 million 668 thousand people.  

Turkey is the agrarian and industrial country. It depends on the foreign monopolies considerably. Turkey exports the textile products and ready-to-wear clothes, cars, citrus, food, spare parts, metal rolling, glass products, and agricultural products. Oil, oil products, gas, non-ferrous and ferrous metals, fertilizers, the wood, and timber compose the main items of import.  

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The Overview of North Korea

North Korea is the country located in the East Asia, occupying the northern part of the Korean peninsula. The country is washed by the Japanese Sea and the Yellow Sea. North Korea was formed after World War II after the division of Korea into two zones of responsibility – Soviet and American. The area of the territory of the country is 120 540 km², while the population is about 24 million people. North Korea is the democratic republic with the communistic form of government. The Supreme People’s Assembly is the main legislative organ in the country.

North Korea maintains the trade relations with more than 100 countries of the world. Korea exports the ferrous and non-ferrous metals, anthracite, and seafood. North Korea generally imports oil and oil products, the coked coal, chemical fertilizers, etc. South Korea, China, Japan, the countries of the EU, and Russia are the main foreign trade partners of the country. Moreover, all industrial enterprises, country farms, and cars compose the property of the state. In the economy, where the industrial sector predominates, such branches as mining (coal, molybdenum, tungsten, etc.), metallurgical, food and flavoring and textile are developed.

The Turkish Musical Tradition

The Turkish music follows the centuries-old traditions. Its roots go to the early Middle Ages when Seljuk Turks, having moved from the Central Asia, won the whole Asia Minor and inhabited the peninsula. The Turks contacted with much more ancient cultures of Armenians, Greeks, and other people on new territories. The musical culture of these peoples had a considerable impact on the Turkish music, the basis of which was made by folklore tradition, characterized by the pentatonic scale. The musical art of the Turkish people is based on the folklore, traditional, and classical music.

During the Ottoman Empire, the new genre – band military music, which accompanied many campaigns of the imperial army, was created. In the 18th century, the Turkish marches gained popularity. The history of this genre of music was short, but band military music allowed the European orchestras to adopt the use of such tools as drums, hand bells, and cymbals. In the 20th century, such genres as opera, ballet, and symphony started developing in Turkey. The modern popular music of Turkey was created under the influence of the western trends. Its best hits can be heard over all country in clubs, bars, and discos. Moreover, the Turkish club music is also famous in Europe, because the Turkish songs are full of passion and emotionality, which differs them from music of other nations.

The Musical Culture of North Korea

As one of the brightest civilizations of the Asia-Pacific region, Korea and its musical culture cause an increasing interest of researchers, remaining the least studied among the cultures of this region at the same time. Scarce works on the Korean musical culture are devoted to the separate problems and have, mostly, a fact-finding character. Meanwhile, a rich by the contents, peculiar and continuing to develop, the Korean musical culture attracts the research attention.

In Korea, there are two musical cultures, differing from each other: traditional music – ‘kugak’ and the western music – ‘yanak’. The Korean folk music is various and complex, but all its forms contain a set of the rhythms called ‘chandan’, and widely define a set of the melodic tonalities. Owning to the fact that the national songs of different regions are grouped in a ‘donb’, their vocal style and tonalities are limited. Therefore, modern researchers try to group the national songs to a ‘donb’ in various musical features. These songs are simple and cheerful. The national songs Namdo, unlike the other songs of the other regions, are very rich and dramatic, and are well known for such genres as ‘pkhansor’ and ‘sandjo’, whose homeland is the Namdo’s region. The national songs of Cheju were sung on the Jeju Island. The national songs of Cheju are grouped by simplicity, unique melody, and richness of lyrics in texts. The majority of musical genres compose the patriotic songs known as ‘tajun kaye’ that gained the development in the 1980s. In most cases, songs are sung together with chorus accompanied by a large orchestra or wind instruments. The composition and performance of the music in Korea is under a complete control of the state. Therefore, all lyrics have an optimistic character.

The Analysis of the Music Industry in Turkey and North Korea

If one compares the music industry in Turkey with the one in North Korea, one should say that they are completely different directions of the musical culture with their peculiarities and characteristic features. Despite the fact that the Turkish music was under the influence of the musical traditions of many countries of the world, it was able to keep the originality and create something peculiar, distinguishing it from the music of the neighboring countries. Moreover, the Turkish music is greatly influenced by the European variety of the music style trends. This influence is felt in the new musical genres, such as jazz, pop music, rock music, and hip-hop that became especially popular among the youth. Thus, the electronic Turkish music gains popularity in both the European and the global music space. The names of many Turkish pop performers became known all over the world, partially, due to the Eurovision festivals.

Speaking of the Korean music, one should say that it is based on the equal functioning of two different musical cultures. On the one hand, it is the national music; on the other hand, it is the music of the European tradition. These two musical cultures do not only coexist, but they have a strong impact on each other, giving rise to the new culture based on their synthesis. With the penetration and establishment of Confucianism in Korea, music was under the strongest influence of this philosophical doctrine, paying to the musical life of society as much attention as to the political and economic development of the state. The important feature of the Korean music is that it represents the collection of the initial beliefs, which were strictly observed in the music of a ‘high tradition’, the music of court ceremonials. The Akhak Kveby Treatise is one of the most vivid examples of the musical history of Korea. It is the generalization of the whole knowledge of music, which the Korean science had at that time, and the great musical heritage of the last centuries concentrated in the theoretical thought of this composition. Thus, despite the differences in the musical trends of Turkey and Korea, there are also some common features, such as, for example, both of them promote the development of the folklore music as well as thoroughly preserve the traditional musical culture.


The music industry of the chosen countries represents the traditions of the east and west. It means the opposition of the east culture to the western one. Thus, the external dissimilarity becomes the reason of the isolation of social and spiritual cultures of various regions of the world. However, the conducted short historical and cultural analysis convincingly shows that the general and specific in the development of the musical culture can be found not only within the certain region, but also in the scales of various regions of the world. It is the best proof of the fact that the universal laws of a social development work and the worlds of the East and West are not separable from each other.

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