Concert theme: New Music Pieces Given by Moranbong Band
Publisher: elufatv http://youtu.be/PMn80NWp89E
stimmekoreas http://youtu.be/JQcqAm_ufRs
moranbongtv http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzc0NjU4NTQ0.html
Place: Mansudae Art Theatre, Pyongyang
Audience: Art related people
KJU: No. He was present in the unpublished concert in the previous day 20140903.
KCNA: Clearly praising http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2014/201409/news04/20140904-01ee.html
Rodong Sinmun: http://www.rodong.rep.kp/ko/index.php?strPageID=SF01_02_01&newsID=2014-09-04-0001&chAction=S

Nayttamo 04.10

Against the hopes of innovative new concerts ignited by the May 2014 National Meetings of Artist, this concert was a negative surprise. The ensemble was now perfectly arranged according to the traditional concept introduced in the 2014.03.17 concert. Although Sonu Hyang-hui was back, Cha Yong-mi was absent, and the string trio had no special independent role. It was simply a part of the orchestra backing the singers. Many new songs were created, but they tended to be of the sentimental KJU variety, with hardly inspiring melodies. On this basis I make two interpretations:

1) MBB was taken under even more minute bureaucratic control than before. We do not know the exact extent that Kim Jong-un has had on the style of the band, but North Korean sources claim that in the beginning he managed it rather closely. Its style was innovative and free, which showed in the charm and popularity of the band. By September 2014 KJU appears to be fairly distant from the band, and perhaps Kim Ki-nam has moved to the highest supervisory role. He is a seasoned propaganda and art bureaucrat, who at that time was about 85 year old, had supervised the North Korean art scene as Kim Jong Il’s faithful right hand since the 1960s, and delivered the speech announcing the ”new” style for North Korean art in the National Meeting of Artists in 16 May 2014. It is possible that the old fashioned style of the ensemble, the rigidity of its forms, the strange treatment of personnel, including the presence of Ri Ok-hua as a singer of the previous generation, came from him. He appeared to be connected with all events related with the band at that time.

2) Because the band was elevated into such heights in the May national meeting of artists, the approach of the art bureaucracy towards the band became not bravely innovative, but rather scared of doing anything wrong. Thus an extremely traditional approach, straight from the art guide of Kim Jong Il, was followed in preparing this concert.

An indicative move was to place all musicians on chairs, as is the traditional North Korean custom from symphony orchestras to light music ensembles. They were also wearing trousers, not skirts, which implies that they were not to be looked at with any interest. The role of musicians is to make sounds, nothing else. The role of singers is to look flashy, move at the front stage, collect the eyes of the audience on themselves, and sing lyrics with traditional messages. Another move was to start changing personnel in an anonymous way, without ever announcing their names, and to make many singers more or less invisible, such as Ri Myong-hui, Kim Yu-kyong (once again), Pak Mi-kyong, and Pak Son-hyang – or someone who looked like her. Guitarist Kang Phyong-hui was changed into a new one, who may be Jo Kyong-hui 조경희 as announced a year later, but as her hair style and small facial details are somewhat different, I have started to call her AnonymousGuitarist (photo comparison at the end of the page). A new young singer (Anonymous1) also visited this concert, never to return. She is a nice expressive singer.

The concert was dominated by the two Merited Aristes, Ri Ok-hua and Ra Yu-mi, and their title was always mentioned on screen. Ri Ok-hua is supposed to be somewhere in her 30s, and she sang earlier in the Wangjesan Light Music Band. She also has the military rank of 중좌 Chungjwa = Lieutenant Colonel, which made her the highest ranking military officer on stage, surpassing Sonu Hyang-hui by two ranks.

Violinist Cha Yong-mi and singer Ryu Jina definitely were missing.

00.35 인민은 부리네 친근한 그 이름 Inminŭn purine chingunhan kŭ irŭm The dear name called by people 人民は呼ぶ親しいその名前を
Composer: U Jong-hui 우정희, lyrics: Cha Ho-gun 차호근, 2014
Arrangement: Ri Myong-nam 리명남
Trio: Kim Sol-mi, Ra Yu-mi, Ri Ok-hwa

06.44 그리움의 하얀 쪽배 Kŭriumye hayan jokbe Nostalgic white raft 懐かしの白い丸木舟
KCNA knows the song with the name ”Small White Boat Everybody Longed to See”.
Composition: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영, lyrics: Pak Kyong-sim 박경심, 2014
Arrangement: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영
Trio: Pak Mi-kyong, Jong Su-hyang, Kim Yu-kyong
Kim is on front stage, in a small trio, and the camera duly shows that she is there – but never focuses on her. The video director is not hiding of her, but not specifically recognizing her either. Her strange visual treament has now continued for almost a year.

11.28 내 심장의 목소리 Ne simjangye moksori Voice of my heart 我が心の声
Composition: Rim Kum-song 림금성, lyrics: Ri Hye-jong 리혜정, 2014. Heard for the first time in 20140520.
Arrangement: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영
Saxophone: Choe Jong-im
Solo: Merited Artiste Ra Yu-mi
Someone, maybe Pak Mi-kyong, visits to sing high background vocals at 15.53-16.17. An interesting arrangement; I have not noticed it elsewhere. This was a nice small detail, honour to Hwang Jin-yong. The string trio plays here with acoustic violins and cello, which also has not been observed elsewhere. The idea apparently is to add to the sentimentality of Ra Yu-mi’s interpretation of the lyrics, but as there is no remarkable difference in sound, the gesture appears meaningless. For the rest of the concert the acoustic instruments were mere decorations beside the players. Would Kim Ki-nam have been happy to see old type instruments on stage?

16.05 만경대혁명학원교가 Mangyŏngde hyŏkmyŏngak wŏngyoga Song of Mangyongdae Revolutionary School 万景台革命学院校歌
No creation info. It sounds like an old KIS period song, but could simply be composed and arranged to sound like that. The idea of the concert was new songs; old ones appear to be placed in the medley below.
만경대혁명학원 Mangyŏngde hyŏkmyŏng hakwŏn 万景台革命学院 Mangyongdae Revolutionary College, is an institution established by Kim Il Song in 1947 for the education of the children of his fellow partisans, who became the central leaders of the WPK. It has since produced many of the top level cadres for the party, state and military organizations, and continues to do so. It is the top elite school in Pyongyang.
Sextet: Ri Ok-hua, Ra Yu-mi, Kim Yu-kyong, Jong Su-hyang, Anonymous1, Kim Sol-mi

18.48 그날의 15분 Kŭnalye sibobun 15 minutes on that day その日の15分
Composition: Ham Hyok 함혁, lyrics: Sol The-song 설태성, Pak Chol 박철, 2014.
Arrangement: Kim Un-ryong 김운룡
Guitar: AnonymousGuitarist
Solo: Merited Artiste Ri Ok-hua


23.13 빛나는 조국 Pinnanŭn joguk Brilliant motherland 輝く祖国
Composition: Ri Myŏn-sang 리면상, lyrics: Pak Se-yon 박세영, 1947

25.20 인민공화국선포의 노래 Inmingonghwaguk sŏnphoye nore Song of the Proclamation of the People’s Republic 人民共和国宣言の歌
Composition: Pak Han-gyu 박한규, lyrics: Kim U-chol 김우철, 1948

26.37 조국찬가 Joguk changa Paean to my motherland 祖国讃歌
Composition: Sol The-song 설태성, lyrics: group, 2013

A very short medley, the only occasion for the musicians to perform by themselves

28.06 고백 Kopek Confession 告白
Composition: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영, lyrics: Kim Jong-dok 김정덕, 2014
Arrangement: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영
Guitar: AnonymousGuitarist
Solo: Merited Artiste Ra Yu-mi;
Pangchang: Anonymous1, Kim Sol-mi, Ri Myong-hui, Kim Yu-kyong

32.40 세월이야 가보라지 Sewŏriya kaporaji It has been years 歳月は過ぎ去って
Composition: An Jong-ho 안정호, lyrics Kim Hyong-chan 김형찬, 2014
Arrangement: Kim Un-ryong 김운룡
Solo: Merited Artiste Ri Ok-hua
Pangchang: Anonymous1, Kim Sol-mi, Ri Myong-hui, Kim Yu-kyong

36.19 철령아래 사과바다 Chŏllyŏngare sakwa pada Sea of apples at the foot of Chol Pass 鉄嶺の麓にリンゴの海
Composition: An Jong-ho 안정호, lyrics: Cha Ho-gun 차호근, 2014
In August the lyricist received a special prize for this song: a watch with Kim Jong-un’s name engraved on it. It was handed to him by Kim Ki-nam.

The melody of the song is ok, but its importance lies elsewhere. It is noteworthy that the prize went especially to the lyricist, who also wrote the lyrics for Kim Sol-mi’s spring hit Pada manphunga / Song of high haul in the sea. That song is actually better, and this one is in many ways its copy. The theme of ample harvests and industrial development were regular ones during the KIS period of economic growth in 1960-1990, but when the years of hunger set in in the 1990s, songs related to food disappeared completely from the repertoire of North Korean ensembles. They would only have highlighted the incompetence of the government in dealing with the crisis. The songs mainly dealt with the importance of the leader, the military, and the party, as well as the happiness of the people. During the 2000s industrial themes again started little by little to appear in songs, as the economy was gradually stabilized. Now in 2014 also ample harvests, both in the sea and in the land, reappear as a theme in new songs, which unambiguously signals that the leadership again has confidence in the economy, including its agricultural sector. Cha Ho-gun got his prize for writing the right songs at the right moment.

Solo: Kim Sol-mi
Pangchang: Pak Son-hyang/Anonymous1b (the only time she appears), Anonymous1, Kim Yu-kyong

40.17 근위부대자랑가 Kŭnwipude jarangga Song of the pride of guards 近衛隊誇りの歌 《近卫军自豪之歌》
Composition and lyrics: Sol The-song 설태성, 2014
Sextet: Kim Sol-mi, Anonymous1, Jong Su-hyang, Kim Yu-kyong, Ra Yu-mi, Ri Ok-hua

44.57 승리는 대를 이 어 Sŭngrinŭn terŭl i ŏ Victory follows the generation 勝利は世代を継いで
Composition: Hyon Kyong-il 현경일, lyrics: Cha Yong-do 차영도, 2014

Songs altogether 13
New 2014 songs 8
Older 2014 song 1
2013 songs 1
1940’s songs 2
No creation info 1; I suspect that it is new 2014

An Jong-ho 2, 2014
Hwang Jin-yong 2, 2014
Sol The-song 2; 1 2014, 1 2013
U Jong-hui 1, 2014
Hyon Kyong-il 1, 2014
Ham Hyok 1, 2014
Rim Kum-song 1, 20140520

Cha Ho-gun 2, 2014
Sol The-song 2; 1 2013, 1 2014
Cha Yong-do 1, 2014
Kim Hyong-chan 1, 2014
Kim Jong-dok 1, 2014
Pak Chol 1, 2014, with Sol The-song
Ri Hye-jong 1, 20140520
Pak Kyong-sim 1, 2014

From these statistics it appears that the staff composers and poets, and perhaps some others, were in May after the National Meeting of Artists given an order to produce for the next concert 1-2 master pieces each, with one way or another eulogizing KJU. Practically everyone took the task in a safe way, with many slow emotional songs, though there were also some faster numbers. All in all the result resembles the annual Eurovision song contests, where the task also is to create immediately catching masterpieces – which only rarely happens. Most of the Euro songs are never heard again after the event, and the same happened also here.

It seems that lyrics, as usual, were considered the most important element from the North Korean point of view. All three recognized pre-2014 songs were performed instrumentally in the short medley; new songs were not ”wasted” that way, but performed by singers. The main NKVision contest was perhaps between the poems, not between the melodies.

Arrangement: Ri Myong-nam of at 32.40. Whoever he is, he is likely to be a staff member. There is infomation also of three other songs arranged by him for MBB, namely at 00.35 in this concert, at 37.44 in the 2015.04.27-28 concert, and at 52.14 in the 2015.10.11 concert. There are no known compositions by him with any of the three ensembles that I have followed (UO, MBB & CBB); he seems to be specialized in arranging. Others:

Arrangement: Hwang Jin-yong, his own composition at 28.06 and Rim Kum-song’s composition at 11.28. He both composes and arranges.

Arrangement: Kim Un-ryong 김운룡 of a composition by Ham Hyok at 18.48, and An Jong-ho’s composition at 32.40. He composes regularly for MBB, but also acts as an arranger of songs composed by others. MBB started performing his older compositions in the 20130101 concert, and his first new KJU era song appeared soon after in the 20130411 concert.

The fact that An Jong-ho did not arrange his own composition for the September concert, and that in the next concert there were no songs made by him, might suggest that he was no more working with MBB in summer 2014.

As a general evaluation of the concert I quote Leon Davis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQcqAm_ufRs&list=TLKLh7zxlo53SEOj7J5zbrxJk9AyxViVM2): “Marshal Kim Jong Un’s original concept for the Moranbong Band was a stroke of pure brilliance. A string quartet in front of a rock and roll band. Never been tried before in  history of the world. To Marshal Kim’s credit, it turned out to be a spectacular success. But what is this? […] The musicians have been pushed into the background in favor of the singers. They even put the musicians on little chairs to make them look smaller, insignificant, and less important. Where’s the excitement? There’s no spark here. No zip. No enthusiasm. They’re just going through the motions. […]”


The audience running wild with emotion for the new Moranbong Band style


Roinaa 20140904 49.30e

Lots of sparkle during the concert.

Roinaa 20140904 49.12e

The thing then falls down like garbage, mainly on the strings. Probably paper.

Sonu Hyang-hui 20140904 25.56e

Sonu Hyang-hui 25.56

Sonu Hyang-hui 20140904 25.56e (1)

Sonu Hyang-hui 37.56

Sonu Hyang-hui 20140904 02.12e

Sonu Hyang-hui 02.12

Yu Un-jong 20140904 11.08e

Yu Un-jong 11.08

StringsAcoustic 20140904 15.35

Acoustic instruments 15.35

AnonymousGuitar Jon He-ryon 20140904 41.48

AnonymousGuitarist & Jon He-ryon 41.48

Kim Yong-mi 20140904 11.10

Kim Yong-mi 11.10

Kim Yong-mi 20140904 48.22e

Kim Yong-mi 48.22

Ri Hui-kyong 20140904 10.50e

Ri Hui-kyong 10.50

Kim Jong-mi 20140904 27.12e

Kim Jong-mi 27.12. First fairly clear facial view of her.

Choe Jong-im 20140904 46.33e

Choe Jong-im 46.33

Ri Yun-hui 20140904 29.10e

Ri Yun-hui 29.10

Ra Yu-mi 20140904 33.32e

Merited Artiste Ra Yu-mi 33.32

Ri Ok-hwa 20140904 06.05e

Merited Artiste, Lieutenant Colonel Ri Ok-hua 06.05

Sonu Hyang-hui watches Ri Ok-hwa 20140904 34.31e

Sonu Hyang-hui watches Ri Ok-hua at 34.31. This concert was one step further in Sonu’s gradual fading away from the band. 

Kim Sol-mi 20140904 03.01e

Kim Sol-mi 03.01

Kim Sol-mi 20140904 03.07e

Senior Lieutenant Kim Sol-mi 03.07

Pak Mi-kyong 20140904 10.37e

Pak Mi-kyong 10.37

Jong Su-hyang 20140904 11.23e

Jong Su-hyang 11.23

Ri Myong-hui Kim Yu-kyong 20140904 32.42

Ri Myong-hui & Kim Yu-kyong 32.42. Ri stayed always in the background, Kim occasionally entered the front stage.

This singer below was once identified as Ri Su-kyong, but that proved to be wrong. Her name has never been revealed, and is thus called here Anonymous1. She and Ri Ok-hua started the pattern of one-time or short-term visiting singers.

It is possible that there was also another one. Or maybe not.

Pak Son-hyang - Anon1b 20140904 39.47e

At the back extreme left there was during the Sea of apples song a figure, who could be Pak Son-hyang – or Anonymous1b: 39.47. My doubt is caused by the fact that I can recognize every other singer, but her face remains unfamiliar. I cannot see Pak Son-hyang there. This is the best edit I can make of the clip. As the whole treatment of personnel in this concert was so strange, she could as well be Kim Ki Nam’s personal secretary, who wanted a brief moment at the stage with Moranbong Band … 

Pak Son-hyang -Anon1b 20140904 40.42e

Pak Son-hyang or Anon1b? 40.42

Pak Son-hyang - Anon1b walks away 20140904 41.39

Whoever she was, she did not proceed to the front for the grande finale, but simply walked away.

Finally we have the problem of the guitarist. It has been thought that she was Jo Kyong-hui, whose name was revealed in connection with the October 2015 concert, but she looks different.

AnonymousGuitar 20140904 24.10e

AnonymousGuitarist 24.10

Guitar Jo Kyong-hui arrived 20151011 01.24.52e

Guitarist Jo Kyong-hui in the 20151011 concert at 01.24.52

Their faces have a similar shape, and they are of very similar built. Even the ear rings look quite similar, but Jo practically always has a sharp expression on her face, while AnonGit does not. The biggest thing is the direction of the front hair. It can of course be changed, but people seldom do it. I do not know, but for the time being I regard them as different people. If singers are brought in on a short term basis, why not guitarists?











18 thoughts on “2014.09.04”

  1. kwaximus said:

    And Seonu Hyang-hui stares at Ri Ok-hwa like Lenin at bourgeoisie…

  2. arthuryabe_mrb said:

    I e-mail for the first time. Perhaps 박선향 was present. In ‘철령아래 사과바다’, she standed and sang as ‘방창’. 리명희 was present, too. She sang as ‘방창’ in ‘고백(告白)’ and ‘세월이야 가보라지’. Please watch the movie again.
    Not ‘강령희’ but ‘강평희’! Please see the pamphlet of the new year concert 2013(Juche 102), again!

  3. hellonc said:

    Another new singer at around 31:18 and 34:15 beside Kim Yu-Kyong? She looks a bit like Ri Myong-Hui, but I can’t really tell.

  4. arthuryabe_mrb said:

    I think almost certainly this singer is Ri Myong-hui. Fans in Japan think so.

  5. The woman on the piano is not kim yong mi, she is at the syntesizer since kim hyang sun is disappered.

  6. Ri Hui-kyong on synthesizer is liutenant now

  7. Victor said:

  8. moalian said:

    Hi Pekka, small comment. I understand you identified the “Unknown Singer” later as Ri Su-kyong, refer tab Members, maybe you want to update the above at you convenience.

  9. pekkakorhonen said:

    You are right, thanks. A lot should be corrected here, when time …

  10. So far i’ve seen is Anonymus 1b also Ri Myong-hui, but maybe i’m wrong.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      She is a bit tall to be Ri Myong-hui … but your answer strengthens my feeling that it is not so easy to see her as Pak Son-hyang.

    • Maybe Anon1b could be one of Ri Ok hwa’s bandmates from the group “Moranbong” who performed in the 20091010 UO concert. I guess it’s Han sol hyang (see 31.20 and 34.15)

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Could be. Also this cannot be proved with the existing visual material, but could indeed be a logical and sensible possibility.

      • MBfan said:

        If you ask me about the guitarist and anonymous1, I’d say that you could go ahead and name both as Jo kyong hui and Ri su kyong respectively. Hairstyles of members always change every concert. For example, I thought Ri Su kyong was a new member in the 20151011 concert all because of her hat and hairstyle.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        You can be completely right, but I simply am not yet convinced strongly enough. I think at the bottom this boils down to our conceptions: whether we think of MBB as a musical band with a membership, or as a work unit that exists for the national task, but whose personnel management emphasizes flow, change and training of new talent. MBB displays both characteristics at the same time. At the moment I just tend to favour more the latter concept.

  11. moalian said:

    Dear Pekka, nice work updating this page for the 2014 09 04 concert.
    Query. The name of the Lieutenant Colonel is spelled Ri Ok-hua on this page while on the other pages it is spelled as Ri Ok-hwa? Which one is the preferred spelling?
    Trivia 1: The Junior Lieutenant Ra Yu-mi, merited artist with her smokey voice did not return after this concert.
    Trivia 2: The Junior Lieutenant Ri Yun-hui, drummer did not return after this concert.
    Trivia 3: A total of 9 singers participate in the concert, the largest number so far!
    Trivia 4: There is a very long wait of almost 8 months till the next publicized concert performed on 2015 04 27.
    Ri Su-kyong is a Lieutenant since 2015 10 25. The single star used on the member page indicates Junior Lieutenant or Major.

  12. pekkakorhonen said:

    If you transliterate directly from the Korean letters, it becomes -hwa, but the usual form of transcribing the name is -hua. I do not remember it always. Same with the -hui in names like Sonu Huang-hui or Ri Myong-hui; there I for some reason remember it. The member page corrected now, thanks.

    I’ll move from tomorrow onwards to South Korea for June. I do not know whether this site is blocked there the same way that North Korea Tech is, even though it is only a research and comment site like this one. http://www.northkoreatech.org
    Moranbong Band videos certainly are blocked there; the current government considers the band very dangerous.

    July in China, and there one never knows beforehand whether passing through the Great Firewall of China is possible or not. The wall is getting thicker and thicker every year.

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