Concert theme: Praising the immortal revolutionary exploits Kim Jong Un
Place: Unknown half-empty auditorium in Pyongyang
Audience: Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, which earlier during the day had held a meeting with Kim Jong Un.
KJU: Present
KCNA: Clear approval; calendar>> March 17. 2014

Wrong scale 720:420, which makes it look as if the ladies have become 20 kg fatter; should be 4:3 = 720:540 = 640:480. Can be corrected in VLC or Flip player; QuickTime can do nothing for it.

When the band appeared again on stage after an absence of more than five months, its concept was changed radically. Excepting the first concert, which has been the introduction of the concept of the band, thus far they had been performing during various national events and memorial days only. Now came the time to introduce a different concept for the band, again in a small hall for a small audience, all military this time. It meant a shift to a more traditional type of DPRK ensembles, where the political lyrics of songs and their singers are in a central role, while the task of musicians is to make rhytmic sounds at the background. Lots of new music from the vice directors of the band and other composer was presented, nearly all of them being eulogies for Kim Jong-un, demanding loyalty for him, of course without forgetting the party and the military.

Another theme in the new lyrics was economic development; KJU’s legitimacy as a leader was being heavily shifted from the blood line to that of the betterment of the life of the citizens. The new concept was forward looking, but at the same time very disciplinary. Free artistic behavior at the stage had no place in it. The mourning period for a deceased person should be three years in North Korea, but KJU seemed willing to end it already after two years. Other ensembles continued to perform KJI memorial songs also in 2014, but MBB was shifted strongly to new KJU songs.

The players were organized differently, with guitars and synthesizers in front, violins in the back with the drummer. Sonu Hyang-hui was absent, and guitarist Kang Phong-hui acted as the concert master. She was moved near the centre of the state. Hong Su-kyong played the first violin; the strings were thus a trio, and no more the soul of the band. Singers were continuously in the main role.

Of the singers, Pak Son-hyang, Ri Myong-hui and Ryu Jina were missing. DPRKMusic Channel of that time – not necessarily the same people/person who run the channel in 2016 – told as an answer to my question that the absences of the four members were caused by investigations related with the Jang Son-thaek affair. Telling that in the internet probably meant disclosing information better kept secret; the channel was abolished a little later, and did not reappear until 2015 in a new form. Apparently Jang’s links and possible links with everyone in the band, and everyone’s loyalty to the regime, were systematically investigated during winter and spring 2014.


01.03 인민의 환희 Inminye hwanhwe People’s joy 人民の喜び 《人民的欢喜》
Composition: An Jong-ho 안정호, lyrics: Cha Ho-gun 차호근, 2014
A new KJU song from a MBB vice director
Violin: Hong Su-kyong
Quintet, unusual order: Pak Mi-kyong, Jong Su-hyang, Kim Yu-kyong, Ra Yu-mi, Kim Sol-mi. The order is changed later, KYK remaining at the centre, but pitch order is avoided. The camera does not avoid any one, focusing also on Pak Mi-kyong and Kim Yu-kyong. Those that have been cleared to perform on stage appear to be ok.

04.56 희망 넘친 나의 조국아 Hwemang nŏmchin naye joguga My country overflowing with hope 希望に満ちた我が祖国 《充满希望的我国哟》
Composition: An Jong-ho 안정호, lyrics: Cha Ho-gun 차호근, 2013
A second An Jong-ho composition in a row. No Egukka was played; the concert started straight with new KJU songs.
Solo: Jong Su-hyang

07.24 우리 어버이 Uri ŏpŏi Our father 私たちの慈父 《我们的慈父》
Composition: An Jong-ho 안정호, lyrics: Pak Kyong-sim 박경심, 2014
A third new An Jong-ho composition in a row, with a KJU theme.
Duo: Pak Mi-kyong, Kim Yu-kyong. The others perform pangchang.
Whatever trouble there was in October 2013 for these two, it seems to be past now.
The leading Kim, irrespective of his age, is called the father of the nation. Yet, the metaphor obviously fit better both KIS and KJI, who rose to the position in a more advanced age than KJU, who was supposed to be 29-30 years old in 2014. The ladies singing are not many years younger.

11.57 바다만풍가 Pada manphunga Song of high haul in the sea 海の豊漁歌 《海上的丰产歌》
Composition: Kim He-song 김해성, lyrics: Cha Ho-gun 차호근, 2014
A second new song with Cha Ho-gun lyrics.
Solo: Kim Sol-mi. The others perform pangchang.
Following socialism and the Marshal promises enough to eat for every one.

16.54 귀향의 노래 Kwihyangye nore Song of going back home 里帰りの歌
Composition: Kim Pok-yun 김복윤, lyrics: Jong Mun-hyang 정문항. No date, but for a change this is not a new song, nor by the usual creators. Performed by UO in 2011 already, but it is probably much older. A YouTube video contains shots from a black & white film:
Trio: Pak Mi-kyong, Jong Su-hyang, Kim Yu-kyong
Text at the bottom of the screen simply announces that the TV is now broadcasting a live recording of the Moranbong Band concert given in honour of Marshal Kim Jong Un. Apparently for the benefit of viewers who were not in front of their TV screens when the programme began.
지금 경애하는 김정은원수님을 모시고 진행한 모란봉악단공연을 록화실황으로 보내드리고있습니다.

19.55 자나깨나 원수님 생각 Janakena wŏnsunim senggak I think of the marshal day and night 寝ても覚めても元帥様を考える
Composition: An Jong-ho 안정호, lyrics: Cha Ho-gun 차호근, 2014. A KJU song.
Solo: Ra Yu-mi
She entered now the specific role of singing very sentimental KJU songs.

24.24 날아가다오 그리운 내 마음아 Naragadao kŭriun ne maŭma I wish my longing heart could fly 飛んでおくれ、私の恋しい心
No creation info. A new KJU song. Introduced by Rodong Sinmun in 2014.03.29
Solo: Pak Mi-kyong

30.10 조국과 인민을 위하여 복무함 Jogukkwa inminŭl wihayŏ pogmuham In service of our state and citizens 祖国と人民の為ために服務する
No creation info. A new song for the state/citizens. Introduced by Rodong Sinmun in 2014.03.31
Short solo: Kim Yu-kyong, then the whole quintet.

33.28 당기여 영원히 그대와 함께 Tangiyŏ yŏngwŏni kŭdewa hamgge We’ll be forever with you, Party flag 永遠まで党旗と一緒
Composition: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영, lyrics: group, 2013
New music from a MBB vice director
Short solo: Kim Yu-kyong, then the whole quintet. She got two this kind of song introductions, while all others got a whole solo performance. Basically everyone was treared equally in this sense.

37.59 그이 없인 못살아 Kŭi ŏpsin mossara We cannot live without him あの方なしでは生きられない
Composition 작곡: Kim Un-ryong 김운룡, lyrics 작사: Cha Ho-gun 차호근, 2013
Third song with Cha Ho-gun lyrics. KJU theme.
Quartet: Pak Mi-kyong, Kim Sol-mi, Jong Su-hyang, Ra Yu-mi

42.08 우리는 당신밖에 모른다 Urinŭn tangsinbagge morŭnda We will follow you only 私たちはあなたしか知らない
Composition: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영 & Kim Un-ryong, lyrics: Cha Ho-gun 차호근 & Ri Ji-song, 2013
Second new song from a MBB vice director. KJU theme.

An Jong-ho 4; 1 2013, 3 2014
Hwang Jin-yong 2 2013
Kim Un-ryong 2 2013 (one of them with HJY)
Kim He-song 1 2014

Lyrics new
Cha Ho-gun 6
Ri Ji-song 1 (with CHG)
Pak Kyong-sim 1
Group 1

No creation info 3; 2 new, 1 old

11 songs, 1 older, 10 new songs. 8 songs were for legitimating KJU; 1 was for the party, 1 for the state/citizens, and 1 an older song for the countryside. The change of the concept for the band can be seen most clearly in the repertoire. Exepting 1, all songs are eulogies for KJU. Many of them were good melodies, but the artistic level necessarily fell somewhat; it is not simple to produce masterpieces very quicly. 7 by MBB vice directors; more than half. They suddenly started producing a lot for the ensemble. Maybe they were responsible for bringing to reality the content of the new concept, and had to dig out all they had in their pockets.

The ingenious artistic idea of early MBB was placing a classically and liberally trained string quartet in front of a rock band, and then adding also a number of beautiful singers. That concept allowed for a wide artistic variation of arrangements for different songs, and highlighted innovation as a central artistic element in the performances, including unexpected moves at the stage. In the new MBB seen in this concert the musicians were all categorized as the ”band”, making prearranged melodical sounds in the background, while they also stopped smiling. Smiling on stage in the case of human beings, and this is even more pronounced in the case of females, is a plea for the acceptance of one’s individual action, if it is not simple fun. The musicians did not need to make this kind of entreaties, because they only fulfilled an ordered collective role, and did not have any special fun. Singers and the legitimation lyrics were in the central role. The main innovative element was an unusually large number of solos and avoiding the usual pitch order when arranging the singers – which is not very much. Yet, that may be the reason why it was used throughout; nothing much else was possible with this concept.

This also possibly indicates that KJU himself had a diminished role in supervising the band. There is a precedent, which may be analytically relevant here. Many Kim Il Song songs were created while he was in charge, but the mass production of art for the KIS personality cult started when Kim Jong Il assumed control of the art scene in the late 1960s, beginning the construction his own power position under the screen of vehemently supporting his father’s public image. In this case the narrowing of the artistic scale may rather point towards increased bureaucratic administration, where old safe forms are preferred over unexpected innovations, and everyone secures her/his position by concentrating on the safest possible activity: creating and performing KJU songs.

Notwithstanding, everyone did her/his job well. This was a good concert, with lots of nice new melodies performed skilfully. At the time we simply were relieved that MBB appeared at all; the long absence combined with the rumours of executions and disappearances of people had made the atmosphere of following North Korean art rather gloomy.

z KJU3

Kang Ryong-hui was there, but her guitar had changed. Her ultra-short hair had grown; apparently that fashion caused too much undisciplined behavior in the country, and MBB members as national role models were made to follow a more traditional hair style.

Kang Ryong-hui1


Kim Yu-kyong was in the choir, but this was the last time in spring 2014 concerts when she was visible. She participated also in later concerts, but cameras did not focus on her, making her almost invisible.

Kim Yong-mi4

Ra Yu-mi replaced her and Ryu Jina as the lead singer. Behind her Kim Yong-mi.

Ra Yu-mi2


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s