Exposing the Music of Seoul’s Red Light District

By Kelsey Tang


Down the southwest region of Seoul is a district called Yeongdeungpo, or YDP for short. While the streets are heavily lined with office, commercial, and residential buildings, the neighborhood was once affectionately known as the red-light district of Seoul.

The team traveled down to meet with one of the local artists of YDP, Mogwaa. Mogwaa composes subdued balearic-inspired synth beats, and continues to find new inspiration for his music in this blossoming district of Seoul. We had the opportunity to see Mogwaa in his most natural habitat: within the walls of a cream-colored basement, and stacks of keyboards surrounding the perimeter of the room.

“I wanna do something like background music,” explains Mogwaa about his production style. And while it’s easy to identify the innately easygoing nature of the music, it’s also plain to see how the district’s metropolitan aspect has tapped into the music.

Mogwaa draws most of his inspiration from his hometown. When asked to describe YDP, Mogwaa explains that the city is “kind of a mess.” There’s the red light district, industrial area, old markets, and a river that runs down the city.

It’s the district’s charming diversity that has captured the curiosity of the Korean producer. At night, YDP takes on a dangerous atmosphere with drunkards roaming the city. As soon as the sun rises, Mogwaa finds peace, jogging by the river.

When asked about his musical journey into funk and synthwave, Mogwaa reveals that he “got bored playing guitar, trying to make music by himself.” He stumbled upon drum machines and synthesizers, and his music began drawing influence from the 80’s and 90’s.

Check out Mogwaa’s live session down below.

Edward Chao