Reggae’s Ambassador to Korea – JoshRoy (NEH Magazine)

A version of the following article was published in March’s “The New Seoul Establishment Issue” of NEH Magazine. Pick up your own copy tonight at Roofer’s in Itaewon during the official release party.

If you were walking the streets of Korea and overheard someone saying, Man, I saw the sickest reggae show last night, you might first do a double take. Second, you might ask, “Reggae music exists in Korea?”

Yes it does, and it’s growing in popularity. There are a handful of Korean reggae inspired bands that have been playing for several years now. Never heard of them? Osaka Union was at one time the band to follow. They then split into two other bands, Windy City and and Kingston Rudieska, both currently playing shows in Hongdae.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “It’s Korean reggae music. How good can it be?” That’s a fair question to ask. However you might be surprised because it’s quite good. Like many creative endeavors in Korea though, there is minimal crossover between the Korean and expat versions of the same kind of music, which can lead to language and cultural barriers.

As an expat you are most likely yearning for the reggae sounds that take you back to life before Korea. The dancehall vibrations that remind you of the exotic island vacation you once took. The dub that mimics the memories of your hazy fraternity years. The mellow evenings you spent drinking beers on the river, blasting ska from your boat. The hip hop reggae you discovered at outdoor summer festivals. Or maybe you are like me and you miss the roots reggae your Bob Marley fanatic of a father played to mold the unforgettable soundtrack of your childhood.

You can experience all of this and more right here in Korea. The man to follow is JoshRoy.

Born in Uganda, he’s an active member of the reggae music community in his native East-Central Africa. His song “Hand in Hand” was featured on a popular television drama which resulted in a tour across Africa, playing in such places as Uganda, Ruwanda, Tanzania and Malawi. “N’Zeka”, “Tewali” and “So Into You” have been a steady part of the top 10 reggae music requests on the radio for some time now. He currently has songs on the radio in South Africa.

JoshRoy has worked for the family business in Korea for three years now, and he’s one of the hardest working artists on the peninsula. He can be found performing his wide array of catchy reggae hits in multiple locations across Seoul what seems like every night of the week. Lately, it seems everyone wants a piece of JoshRoy. Charity events, hip hop showcases, comedy nights, open-mics, magazine parties and of course reggae performances, there’s not much he’s not invited to take part in.

He is a reggae artist first and foremost, but many of his inspirations come from the diverse world of hip hop. Early influences came from MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice and one of his current favorite artists is the great Damian Marley, who has admirably blazed his own trail in the world of hip hop reggae. Not to mention a ton of JoshRoy’s collaboration work in Korea is with our local hip artists such as Da, Sonny of Sonny Side Films, Dusten Wes, James “Naughty Rooster” Hershberger of Space Rhyme Continuum and Rob Lee.

In addition, JoshRoy is hard at work collaborating with the other reggae artists in Korea. He has recorded and performed with fellow expats Gold Tea and Mr. Flex who are reggae legends in their own right. He is also bridging the gap between native and expat artists by accepting recent invitations to step on stage with Korean reggae band Windy City. In fact, rumor has it that there is an outdoor reggae festival being planned for this summer. Organizers consist of JoshRoy, Gold Tea, Mr. Flex and Akeem from Windy City.

Maybe it’s taken the combination of an artist like JoshRoy and the open environment that the good times reggae scene has to offer to further bridge that gap between Korean and expat artists. Whatever the case, reggae appears to be on the rise for everyone in 2011. JoshRoy is as busy as ever. Windy City and Kingston Rudieska are rocking out performance at Club 500 in Hongdae. Redemption Bar in Hongdae is gaining a reputation as a go to spot. The prospects of the festival are looking good. It’s all great news for you reggae lovers out there.

You can hear all of the songs mentioned in this article using the Band Profile tab on the Fans of JoshRoy facebook page. You can also listen to his music at as well as

To assist in your auditory experience, here’s a go to guide referring to many forms of popular reggae music, some of the most well known reggae stars that perform each particular style as well as the JoshRoy songs that fit each category.

Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Culture
JoshRoy examples: “Christmas Song”, “Valentine”

Gregory Isaac, Sugar Minot
JoshRoy examples: “Shining Star” which he’s performing but has not released

Skatalites, U-Roy
JoshRoy examples: “Let Me Dance”

Shaba Ranks, Shaggy, Mr. Flex (Mad Cobra)
JoshRoy examples: “Most High”, “Peace and Love”, “Rise Up”

Lover’s Rock
Beres Hammond
JoshRoy examples: “Valentine”

Hip Hop Reggae
Damian Marley, Junior Reid, Sizzla Kalongi
JoshRoy examples: “Uno Ready”


~ by ripcitytoseoul on March 12, 2011.

2 Responses to “Reggae’s Ambassador to Korea – JoshRoy (NEH Magazine)”

  1. I am here visiting and have a copy of a CD by Kore Ionz, a reggae band from Seattle, that features the song, “Love You Better,” which is the #1 song on NativeFM in Hawai’i. You can get more information about the band at . Can you let me know what radio station I can leave a copy for air play? If you have any leads, please give me an address. Thanks much.

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