Home Tags Posts tagged with "moranbong"



North Korean pop group Moranbong has halted its goodwill tour of China – before it even began.

The all-female band unexpectedly turned up at Beijing’s main airport just hours before their first concert and flew back to Pyongyang.

Moranbong were due to play three shows to help improve ties between China and North Korea.

It is not yet clear why the performances were canceled.

Moranbong is one of North Korea’s most popular bands. Its members were reportedly handpicked by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, himself.

The band plays a mixture of Western and traditional Korean tunes, and has been happy to perform the theme from the movie Rocky alongside patriot songs praising North Korea’s communist rulers.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Moranbong members play a range of instruments, including electronic violins.

In North Korea, the Moranbong musicians are also known for wearing revealing outfits and sporting fashionable hairstyles.

The women were waved off for their first-ever foreign tour from Pyongyang railway station on December 9 by senior leaders.

Dressed in military uniforms, they smiled and waved to fans when they came and went from their hotel after arriving in China.

There was no hint of trouble when they practiced in Beijing’s National Center for Performing Arts on December 11.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed the performances were aimed at improving ties between China and North Korea. She also joked that she did not know where to get hold of a ticket for the concerts.

However, on December 12, the band unexpectedly arrived at Beijing airport and boarded a plane back home – a scheduled flight whose departure was delayed for several hours.

Moranbong’s stage set was dismantled and its concerts were canceled. Neither China nor North Korea has given an official reason for the abrupt end of the tour.

China and North Korea are allies. China’s Chairman Mao once said they were as close as lips and teeth.

However, they have not always seen eye-to-eye over recent years. China has been particularly angry at three nuclear tests carried out by North Korea, the last in 2013.

Laibach will be the first foreign band to perform in North Korea, director Morten Traavik has confirmed.

Morten Traavik has arranged for the group to play two concerts in Pyongyang in August in front of 2,000 people.

The concert will include some of Laibach’s hits over their 35-year career and North Korean folk songs.

The controversial Slovenian band has been slated by some critics because of its ambiguous use of political and nationalist imagery.

But admirers say that their tendency to wear military uniforms on stage is a critique of totalitarian ideology.Laibach North Korea tour

Norwegian director Morten Traavik says that in North Korea they will be uncontroversial – even performing songs from The Sound of Music.

Also on their playlist is one of this year’s most popular hits in North Korea, performed by the all-girl band Moranbong: We Will Go To Mount Paektu.

Mount Paektu is the tallest peak on the Korean peninsula and is the mythological birthplace of the whole Korean nation.

The Laibach performances on August 19 and 20 – which coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula’s liberation from Japanese colonization – would never have been possible without Morten Traavik’s contacts and artistic direction.

He is one of the few Western directors regularly to have arranged artistic and cultural exchanges with North Korea and over the last five years has won the trust of the authorities.

Despite its extremist reputation individual members of Laibach have not been vetted by the North Korean authorities because the director has given his word that they will not cause an upset.

The director argues that much of misunderstanding surrounding the band stems from their tendency in the 1980s and 90s to wear military uniforms on stage.