In enka it is common to have the different prefectures of Japan mentioned, but anywhere outside of Japan, not so much. Come to think of it, I don't think I've come across any other song that features an international location besides "Busan Ko e Kaere" (Return to Busan Port).
Having the name of South Korea's second largest city in its title made "Busan Ko e Kaere" stand out whenever I surfed YouTube for enka, and I usually see it being associated with the unassuming and anemic-looking (probably caused by the bout of stomach cancer he had in the late 80's) Jiro Atsumi (渥美二郎). Listening to the song, I must say that it got me hooked with its mysterious air and funky techno beat. The growling electric guitar in the background also added a wonderfully menacing touch, and it also sort of mimics the lonely blare of the ship's horn. Responsible for this composition was songwriter Fan Sun-woo (黄善友), who was known for creating songs that are the Korean equivalent of kayokyoku. However, I find that Atsumi's quiet and delicate voice doesn't exactly match the aggressive music to "Busan Ko e Kaere"; he seems to utter each word with such care and caution.
Eventually I found out that what I have been hearing from Atsumi was only a cover, and that the original was by Cho Yong-pil (조용필), who seems to be quite a big figure in Korean pop music. The original "Busan Ko e Kaere" is not as rock-tinged as Atsumi's rendition, but Cho gives a more forceful and emotional delivery that's more appropriate for this tune about a woman forlornly waiting for her dearly beloved to return to her at the Busan port. Or at least that's lyricist Reiji Miyoshi's (三佳令二) translation of Fan's lyrics, which is almost the same save for one little detail - someone expecting his/her brother, rather than a lover, to return.
Alright, on to the statistics. Cho had first released "Busan Ko e Kaere" in 1975, but I'm not sure how well it was recieved then as there's no information on that. All I know is that he sang it at his 4th appearance on the Kohaku Uta Gassen in 1990. I guess it's because it became more popular after Atsumi's cover came out in 1983 and became a hit, selling about 700 000 copies. But if so, I wonder why Atsumi wasn't invited to sing it instead.
|Cho actually looks somewhat cute...|
in a nerdy sort of way.