“We’ll exert ourselves with the Labor Party!” sound so much more appealing when it’s being sung by young women in high heels and followed by a guitar solo.
When it’s hard to refer to your country without the word “totalitarian,” people might get the idea that there’s no room for such modern frivolities as pop music. But even North Korea isn’t immune to the appeal of idol singers, and as proof here’re the brightly smiling ladies of the Moranbong Band.
The group’s name is a reference to the Moran Hill park in Pyongyang, in which several monuments to the country’s political leaders can be found. Each of Moranbang Members is personally selected by Kim Jong-un.
▼ Because how can you call yourself “supreme leader” if you’re not in charge of creating the short list of candidates for “best girl?”
But unlike the military marches or traditional folk songs you might be imagining, Moranbong Band has a surprisingly modern sound.
Well, modern in the sense of extremely heavy use of synthesizers and early 1980s-style guitar riffs. Although the group was only formed in 2012, its costumes and musical stylings are pretty old-school. Still, with multiple vocalists, plus musicians playing the drums, violin, and cello on-stage, it looks like Moranbang Band puts on a pretty impressive live show.
▼ Their concerts are also totally worth seeing if you’re really into hats.
Still, the lyrics quickly remind you of the group’s background. You’re never more than a few seconds away from a message about the importance of nationalism, agriculture, education, or some other tool for developing the country.
▼ “Let’s learn and learn, for our country!”
▼ “Our strong country, we’ll make it a paradise!”
▼ A paradise of bubbles, apparently.
With Japan’s natural affinity for harmonizing female vocalists, Moranbong Band has earned a pocket cell of Japanese fans, whose comments have included:
“There are some surprisingly cute girls in Moranbong Band.”
“Their hairstyles and makeup are kind of old-fashioned, but they’re all cute. I think I could really get into this group.”
“With their looks and talent, they probably were aiming for something like Celtic Woman or 12 Girls Band. It’s a shame they had to be born in North Korea…”
▼ And of course there’s anime-style Moranbong Band fan art
ほりこう@３日目西“く”29b (@horikouhorikou) December 12, 2015
Really, in some ways, the group’s persistent optimism feels a lot like that of Japanese idol units, especially when they’re encouraging the audience to get swept up in their can-do attitude.
As a matter of fact, you might find yourself tapping your toes as Moranbong Band literally sings the praises of life in North Korea…right up until you hear them sing the ominous line “We’ll make a paradise with our method.”
▼ Considering the group’s totalitarian state origins, that method is almost certainly political executions and prison camps.