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Korean Producer 250 Wins Big at Korean Music Awards For 'Ppong.' Here’s Why This Is Huge For K-Pop

An Asian man with medium-tone skin has his hair shoulder-length in back and swept to the side. He has a square jaw and wears a light-colored polo with the name Ray on it.
250 won Artist of the Year, among other major awards, at the 2023 Korean Music Awards.
(Courtesy Beasts And Natives Alike)
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A new album called Ppong just won Album of the Year at a prestigious music awards show in South Korea. Its conceptual basis is rooted in a secret element nestled deep within K-pop that makes the music so distinct.

If this style of music is new to you, or you'd like to know more than you already do, we've got you covered. The history of this sound is covered in the third episode of our new podcast, K-Pop Dreaming.

Why it matters

This musical element, called ppongjjak, is celebrated and put the spotlight on Korean producer 250’s debut album, which happens to be Ppong. 250 was one of the big winners at the 2023 Korean Music Awards this past Sunday, taking home accolades including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year.

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What exactly is ppong?

"[It's] a little like this sad feeling, a little desperate feeling," 250 told us, speaking in Korean, to K-Pop Dreaming host Vivian Yoon when they discussed the intricacies of ppongjjak.

250 — whose production credits span from K-pop juggernauts BTS to rising stars like NewJeans — described ppong as a wistfulness that is enhanced by a contrasting flavor ... like a mixture of ingredients that combine to give off a unique taste.

"Something like caramel salt," he said.

You'll hear 250 and Yoon discuss why a nearly century-old musical element is still present in contemporary K-pop, and why he decided to base his award-winning album entirely on the concept of ppong.

Sounds great! Where can I listen?

It’s now available from LAist Studios. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts! Or listen to the episode here!

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