Monday, July 20, 2009

Ask a Korean! Wiki: Downloading Korean Music

Dear Korean,

How can I get K-pop mp3s online without stealing? Do you have any sites to recommend? I can't make heads or tails out of Naver's music section, I can find the music I want, but I can't figure out how to buy it (I'm a begining 한국어 핵생, so I can read some, but not well enough to be comfortable that I'm inputting my credit card info in the right spots!). I'm happy to pay for them, but I don't want to spend 20-30$ for a CD full of stuff I may not like to get a single song I know I will like.

Paul Cabana

Dear Paul,

The Korean can tell that you are a beginner student in Korean -- as you misspelled 학생 ("student"). But your English needs work too -- you also misspelled "beginning".

Readers, allow the Korean to reiterate: the Korean learned English when he was 16. Most of you have been speaking and writing in English for your whole life. The Korean expects mistake-free emails from your questions. If you make dumb mistakes like that, be prepared for ridicule.

But your question is a solid one, so the Korean will let this one slide at this point. To buy albums, the Korean uses; the Korean does not buy mp3 for single songs as far as Korean music goes, but understands that has an option for purchasing single songs.

Readers, do you know of any other sources?

Caveat: absolutely nothing illegal please. And yes, downloading a song without paying for it is illegal. The Korean does not care if you like that law or not.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I can recommend and I prefer Mnet because, for the most part, they've done away with DRM and all the songs they offer are in mp3 format so you don't have to worry about being unable to play the songs you just bought on your mp3 player.

    Another advantage of Mnet is that once you add money to your account you can also stream movies to your computer.

  3. I believe Apple iTunes has korean mp3s if you change the country setting to Korea.

  4. I always use DRM-free MP3's, cheap, no problems so far (except, of course, the tons of crap-shit ActiveX plugins Korean websites make you install)

  5. I have been reading and writing English since I was three. I also have edited the English writing of other people, starting from my mom when I was eight and currently including my professors and peers in graduate school. When I send my own work out for review, I take pride in its grammatical correctness. Yet I still write emails and blog comments with elementary typos, like writing "begining" for "beginning." One of the strengths of electronic communication is its speed, and that can be compromised by extensive review to catch typos. Self-review often requires time spent away from a piece; writers know in their minds what they intended to write, so it is difficult for them to see what is actually on the page. When I write an email or, especially, a blog comment, my intent is for the recipient to see it immediately. I usually do a once-over to check for mistakes, but these errors still slip through. Therefore, I think you are being unnecessarily harsh on Paul for that one typo.

    That said, Paul also has a run-on sentence, and that is a much bigger sign to me that he could use some formal grammar training. It is easy to misspell a word, especially when he might have only failed to lift his finger far enough away from the "n" key when typing "beginning," but it is much more difficult to accidentally write a structurally incorrect sentence.

  6. What about Yesasia???

  7. And yes, downloading a song without paying for it is illegal.

    No.. There are many songs given out for free that's not illegal to download. The action of transferring information across the internet is not illegal altogether, and this is a very sensitive topic in IP law.

    We all know what you mean, but if you're going to nitpick, so will your commenters.

  8. Ummm... what's with all this complaining? Can't you people see it's partly for humor that he acts snotty with grammar mistakes in e-mails? Calvin, if you're really going to be nitpicky, you should have written "that are illegal," not "that's." The Korean himself should have probably written "whether you like that law or not," not "if." Wanda, thanks for your treatise on electronic communication, but I think you are taking this issue a bit too seriously. Now, let's just chill out, shall we?


    You can stream the music, but not download it. Lots of Korean music.

  10. @The korean: Congrats, you caught me with a misspelled sentence. I will now cower in the corner crying in my beer that I was ridiculed over the internet. (Oh, was I supposed to feel bad?)

    You can tell I'm a beginner with Korean because I'm romanizing Korean words and spelling them that way. My teachers try to force it out of my head and I am trying, but it's a lot harder to learn a new language at 35 than it is at 16.

    @Jabril & Kdufuos: Will check it out, thanks.

    @JW: I'll have to check on that country setting, I know the US itunes doesn't really have very much in the way of music.

    @Wanda: Thanks for the backup on the misspelling, and I'll have to look you up to take that grammatical training cause I really need to learn more english after years of using it, but hey what do I know, you're the expert right? Oh wait, was that a run on sentence too? heheh

    @tellos: Yeah I've used yesasia, and as I said in the email, I don't like buying CDs, I prefer buying MP3s so I don't end up spending 20 bucks on a CD that is full of music I don't want for a song that I do want.

    Anyway, keep the recommendations coming please!


  11. hello i found on blog while browsing on the internet. i am trying to find out what my korean name means. could you help me? it's young shik. 영식

  12. id reccomend mnet too, i guess(:

    and "elbert," i asked.. my aunt and she said that young shik is a combination of "eternal" and "honesty." you should check with someone else though, as i dont know how credible a source she is, lol

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. @PaulC: Written English is different from spoken English, and formal language is different from informal language. Many of the rules of correct English grammar were created in the 18th century, after several hundred years of people using the English language. Therefore, it is not surprising that formal English grammar is non-intuitive, occasionally favors awkward phrasings, and requires explicit training to know. Unfortunately, if you do not follow these rules, people will criticize your typos and grammatical mistakes instead of your ideas. Equally unfortunately, the amount and quality of formal grammar training in school differs wildly from place to place, and there is generally less of it now than there was fifty years ago.

  15. Paul C,

    No, you're not supposed to feel bad -- you are just supposed to use correct English, given that you grew up with the language. But kudos for learning a new language; the Korean means that. He knows personally how difficult it is.

    The Korean Brother,

    Shut up.


    The Korean realizes he might be minority in this position, but the Korean thinks that speed is a very overrated, and spelling/grammar underrated. Correct spelling and grammar are basic manners. If dropping food all over the place simply to eat fast is frowned upon, the same is true for sloppy English.

  16. lan-gwidge reponds to thuh needz and wants of iyz userz.:)

  17. is OK but I prefer Mnet mp3s sometimes have incomplete tags.

  18. Thanks for the great question! Does anyone know if there is a place I can download Korean MP3s and pay IN ENGLISH? I don't know any Korean but I would like to be able to listen to songs before I buy them. (I currently use Yesasia but can't listen to the tracks before or get the tracks right away). Thanks for your help!

  19. Doesn't bugs and soribada require a Korean ID for registration? Even if they do allow foreigners to register, I believe most of the payment merchants made available require one to have a Korean ID.

    Mnet is probably the only site which has registration in English.

    One particular fansite has even provided tutorials on how to purchase songs for foreigners who aren't able to read korean.

  20. Sir, since we are correcting English, may I humbly suggest that "questions" to not possess any properties which would allow them to send emails, as implied in the statement "The Korean expects mistake-free emails from your questions."

    Perhaps this could be more clearly worded as "The Korean expects your questions in the form of mistake-free emails."

    Also, a single dash is always sufficient- a double dash "--" is excessive and a poor stylistic choice.

    Have a wonderful week,

    Banana Stache

  21. This post is quite old so I guess it's silly to post, but it's obvious that the spelling mistake comment was a joke. I like that humor. I think it's part of what makes this blog great.


  22. Soribada now has an English-language portal for foreigners; you need to have the "verified by visa" additional security layer on your CC, but then you can buy without a Korean id (and purchases count towards the Gaon chart for those of you who care about such things.) More Korean music is now finding its way to US iTunes, slightly less to Canadian iTunes, but randomly and frequently a month or more after it is released in Korea, plus the search function doesn't really play well with non-Western character sets.

  23. Paul,

    I can't believe "Korean" made the comment about your mistake in Korean and English! It's totally unnecessary, especially when they themselves made several mistakes. In fact, I had to reread what they wrote because it wasn't clear. I know Koreans are good about identifying grammatical mistakes but is it necessary when you were asking a simple question? It really sickens me when I hear rude comments like this. I'm a Korean, living in the U.S. for over thirty years and seriously, Koreans in Korea really need to keep their negative comments to themselves!!!!


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