And in a society where conformity is widely expected, the mosh pit masters are as clean-cut as any average Seoul citizen.
In the intimate, subterranean surroundings of a cramped basement room, the five members of Monsters Dive took part in a battle-of-the-bands before a small audience, mostly seated until frontman Chu Yeonsik ordered them to their feet.
“Are you ready?” screamed the 25-year-old nursing student, transformed into a fist-pumping alter ego leaping around the tiny stage as if he were gracing a large-scale arena.
The band’s blistering set was meted out with the kind of technical precision typical of the rigorous training of the country’s intensive educational system.
“Usually I never listen to metal music,” said audience member Nam Ji-eun, 23. “But the performance was great. Even though I don’t know anything about metal, the songs were catchy and I have the tune stuck in my head now. I would like to go and see other bands too.”