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Asia Minute: North Korea’s Girl Group Sings Propaganda


Diplomacy can take many forms around the world.  So can propaganda. This week, North Korea appears to be trying to combine the two with its latest official delegation to China.  The travelers include singers: a girl group reportedly put together by North Korea’s dictator.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

When people think of North Korea, they may think of human rights—or the lack of them.  There are nuclear weapons tests and missile launches condemned by most of the rest of the world.  There’s the multigenerational dictatorship that tolerates no dissent, and stories told by defectors of prison camps, misery and near starvation.

Chances are pretty good that most people don’t think of an all-girl band singing propaganda songs - occasionally dressed in spike heels and tight black dresses.  But that’s “Moranbong”—an all-girl group of more than a dozen members that play electric violins, cellos, guitars, keyboards and other instruments.

Reportedly founded by leader Kim Jong Un himself three years ago, they’re heading to China this week.  North Korea’s official news agency says the group will be giving “friendship performances” along with an army orchestra called the “State Merited Chorus.”

You can find Moranbong on You Tube…but the group’s songs are not likely to spark a lot of downloads.  Titles include “We Think of the Marshal Day and Night” and “O My Motherland Full of Hope”as well as the subtly-titled “My Country is the Best.”  The Associated Press reports at an early performance, the band also played the theme from “Rocky.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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