As many of my readers notice things of Moranbong Band that I do not, you can comment on them here. Authors with a previously approved comment should get through without moderation; new authors require a tick by me on the acceptance box. May sometimes take some time; I am not always online. Sometimes WordPress does not seem to recognize the computer of a previously approved commentator.

You can also write to me to

814 thoughts on “Forum”

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Dead he is, according to so many news reports. Interpretations of the causes and ultimate perpetrators abound in the media. The ones that do NOT claim that “brother killed brother” are the more interesting.

  1. New song but sadly not from the MB.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Yes, not from the MBB, but SMC is the closest ensemble there is to it. One more march about socialism, although socialism of course is no more the main economic system of North Korea. At the end of the video were shown both successful missile launches using the pressurized air technology during the first stage.

      I put at the end of the Prehistory page a number of photos and comments related with our discussion of Jo Kuk-hyang a few days ago. Requires some scrolling down, if anyone is interested.

      • moalian said:

        Yes I’m interested, a lot of information on the NK society, interesting to see the knowledge available with the forum visitors, thanks to all !

        @pekka I believe Jaka Parker is a freelance photographer and stay-at-home dad, his wife works at the Indonesian embassy in Pyongyang, see his Youtube channel and comments on reddit

      • MBfan said:

        Now I’m having a theory that Jo is a daughter of Ri Pun Hui (PEE singer). Jo reminds me of her (just look at their facial similarities!)

        I’d suppose Jo cannot get inside MBB that quick if she didn’t have connections with someone famous or prominent. She also has the talent of course, but I tend to think of it that way.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Thanks Moalian. I have to correct Parker’s employment info. I wrote to him an email some time ago, but maybe he does not read that account any more.

        Ri Pun Hui’s daughter … could be. No way to tell. I think she is an excellent performer and singer, with lots of talent, but seeing how she has been given the privilege to perform in important occasions and at the front stage so many times since a teenager, I also have the feeling that she has a guardian angel helping her career. During the 20151011 she got 3 chances to begin a song and stand at the front stage, unlike the other two new entrants. Perhaps the angel’s name is Ri Pun Hui. Would be nice to know.

        I suppose that also in North Korea women keep their father’s name when they marry, while children of the next generation also get their father’s name, so the different surnames here would be no problem.

  2. Today the KCNA published a short video with the title: “Anniversary of State Merited Chorus Marked”. It is not a public music performance, just a meeting with speeches, which has the character of a military court trial …

    You can find the short video (duration only 4:14′) here:

    Look at 01:52, 01:59, 02:04, 03:34, 03:41 and 03:59: are these young ladies in military uniforms the singers and instrumentalists of Moranbong Band ?

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      That was an interesting video, though I was able to watch it only once. The video refuses to run again. The only lady that I believe I recognized for sure was the former bassist 전혜련 Jon Hye-ryon, wearing SMC collar plates. But the group of ladies wearing yellow collar plates and without military ranks was curious. I cannot say for sure that I recognized anyone, but I would like to see them again.

      • Footage at 8:05. There is also the report about KJU watching the SMC 70th aniversary concert.

      • moalian said:

        This video has a number of stills of the concert, photo session and meeting

        Former MBB bassist Jon Hye-ryon is there! The full MBB is not there, although at first glance it looks like that be area few familiar MBB faces, between the large number of SMC ladies, but this must be due to the low resolution of the photo’s. It is possible that other MBB members (musicians or singers) recently joined the SMC. A full concert video can clarify the matter.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        It may be that there is also the former MBB synthesiser player 김향순 Kim Hyang-sun at 12:00 in the news video. The yellow collar plates of 5 ladies and 3 gentlemen resemble those of MBB in their full military dress, but are a bit different. A red line is missing. Thus perhaps no current MBB members here, unless the three gentlemen were MBB composers and lyrics writers. Also in the concert stills there did not appear to be MBB performers. There is a close relationship between MBB and SMC, but perhaps they are not exactly the same ensemble.

      • moalian said:

        The yellow collar tab with the red ‘army’ band most likely indicates the ‘rank’ of student officer. These students have no or limited previous military training and are selected for their special capabilities to join the junior officer ranks. After successful completion of the training the student will get the rank of Sowi. A student that fails the officers training, and stays in the army, will receive a soldiers rank. I can not provide any direct reference for NK but this system exists in a number of European armies.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        That would be a logical explanation. Actually all people wearing the yellow tab are quite young, including the three males. The puzzle remains why were MBB members wearing yellow collar tabs in the 2015.10.25 ceremony, where they all were promoted together with SMC. Photos on the “Band members” page. Does it say something significant of the MBB, or does it not? MBB members have rank symbols on their tabs, but the bottom colour is the same yellow.

      • moalian said:

        During the 2015 promotion ceremony the MBB members wear the closed collar uniform with leather shoulder strap (no shoulder strap for the most senior lady? officers). The collar tab is yellow with red band and red middle stripe(s) and stars.

        The SMS members wear the open collar uniform. The shoulder tab is green, with red band and red middle stripe(s) and stars.

        Both uniforms are worn by the NK military, and you will see generally the closed collar worn by the lower ranks and the open collar by the higher ranks.

        But is seems MBB is not so strict in the military daily dress code, later I can add more.

  3. Bawris said: i just stumbled upon this video,this looks like an unhasu orchestra performance,if not maybe of a new orchestra?

    • This is the State Symphony Orchestra (국립교향악단) with a choir from the Mansudae Art Troupe.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Yes, I think so too. But excepting the large number of dances and acrobatics, the visual setting resembled very much that of Unhasu Orchestra concerts. The arrangement of songs was quite different, though. Among the female singers, at least three had performed with UO, namely Jang Song-mi 장송미 in the first song, and Ri Jong-hua 리정화 (solo) and Kang Yon-hui 강연희 (small choir) much later, in different songs. Hwang Un-mi was missing from both videos seen tonight, but Kim Ki Nam was present in both, apparently continuing to supervise the North Korean art scene decade after decade, year after year.

    • There was a concert on 25.Jan.2017 at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre celebrating the 100th birthday of composer Kim Won Gyun.
      The State Symphony Orchestra and a choir of the Mansudae Art Troupe were conducted by Chae Ju Hyok 채주혁 and Ho Myong Kwon 허명권 (both former Vienna Music Univ. students).
      The singers are more or less the same as in the video mentioned above by “Bawris”.

      In this video certain young ladies in the audience are shown again and again.
      Look at 03:53, 04:32, 05:10, 14:29, 19:47, 23:35, 33:10, 45:20, 51:33, 54:20, 57:22, 1:00:09, 1:10:05, 1:13:19, 1:14:36 … can anyone identify these ladies ?

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Never seen them before. But they all appear to be wearing student uniforms. Considering the camera work on the audience in concerts, the directors in general seem to go after 1) important people, 2) emotion, 3) beauty, and 4) general average samples. Here we may deal with 1) or 3).

        Most of the views seem to concentrate on two girls, who appear to be twin sisters, though sitting separately. Both of them have hair decorations distinguishing them from other girls. Seen clearly on one’s head, not as clearly on the other.

  4. Song Junhoe said:

    The “DPRK music fan” channel on Youtube which as you all know contains a huge amount of moranbong band music, has been removed due to “severe violations of youtubes policy” – will it be restored ?

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Thanks for informing about this. Nobody knows about restoration. Channels and uploaded videos disappear because of DPRK actions and because of YouTube actions. Sometimes they reappear, quite often not. But if not, something else usually comes to replace them.

  5. There was a new samjiyon band concert.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      I now had time to properly listen to the concert. It is a good one, but I have a feeling that SYB is an ensemble in the making, with a lot of developmental potential. I listened also to some old Unhasu Orchestra International Women’s Day concerts, and I think that they were technically and artistically more developed. From the point of view of the educational system the SYB in its current form appears as the entrance of a new generation of Kim Won Gyun University of Music graduates to the national stage.

      It also may be that the current generation of elite sons and daughters are a bit fatter than the people a decade ago. The resolution of the video seems to be ok, no distortion horizontally. Not only the dress of the performers displays affluence, but also their flesh.

      UO performed the International Women’s Day concerts in 2010, 2012 and 2013. They were always big events, with large audiences, and videos were always published in the net. They also always contained foreign music, and were clearly meant to be international diplomatic events. As far as I know, in 2014 and 2015 there were no special concerts published, though in newsreels were shown smaller concerts, dancing and sports events. In 2016 a concert by the National Ethnic Music Ensemble was published, and now this one by SYB. The day is thus noticed again in terms of cultural diplomacy, but not utilized much. The Kim Jong Il era was much more skilled in terms of diplomacy than the current one. In March 2018 we will see whether the main role for this concert is again given to some other ensemble, or whether SYB will develop the concert further.

      Arthur Yabe tweeted that during the song Sesange purŏmŏpsŏra 58.25 onwards camera is displaying often the nationally produced accordion. Its mark is 은반울 Ünbanul, meaning kielo/liljekonvalj/Majglöckhen/lily-of-the-valley.

  6. MBfan said:

    Y’all should see this (from 20130727 concert):

    Look at the lady farthest to the left. I saw the band’s emblem and two red stripes in her rank,though vague, No doubt she’s a part of the band, but in what department?

    • MBfan said:

      What I meant was the lady “farthest to the right”.

    • I think she is Hyong Song-wol.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Interesting observation. So little is seen of her. Her face has the resemblance of Hyon Song Wol, though she also could be somewhat younger. Hyon is not very old, however. The two red stripes on her shoulder would point out to a high ranking officer, again pointing to Hyon. On the other hand, at that time the band was supposed to have had also a vice director called 장정애 / Jang Jonge, of whom there are no pictures, nor any information of her responsibilities. But all in all, I am inclined to side with Umut and think that she is Hyon Song-wol.

      • MBfan said:

        Ah, yes. I was thinking she’s a different person. So I suppose MBB directors are always at the concerts but hidden from the cameras. I also found this concert heavily edited with the rehearsal camerawork.

        Well, if I am able to go through all concerts again, maybe I could spot another hidden MBB person (hope so.)

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        What was interesting that she was wearing the same outfit as the band. Being among the audience would not actually necessitate that.

        We actually have a picture of Vice Director 장정애 Jang Jonge from the 20140517 national meeting of artists. Arthur Yabe shared a link to a Japanese blog maintained by Kawaguchi Tomohiko.

        It is there among other photos and comments on the meeting.

      • Is not this the girl?

        • pekkakorhonen said:

          Never seen this photo before! There is an unknown girl, and at first sight I am not sure of all of the other ladies either. At the back row there appear to be composers and conductors. The girl may not have two stripes on her shoulder, she looks so young, but the photo is totally welcome. When and where was it taken?

        • MBfan said:

          This was taken at the friendly basketball match between a DPRK team and the Globetrotters, 2013. I believe I have not seen the lady beside Kim Jong mi at the left. moalian already posted the photo, but with low quality so I did not notice her much.

        • pekkakorhonen said:


  7. I do not upload YouTube on this site.
    Search for the following sentence
    VICE on HBO Season One: The Hermit Kingdom (Episode 10)

    22:02 capture

  8. I am a fan of KIM Yu Kyung.
    If you do not mind, I’ll upload some photos.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      My deepest apologies. I had to edit your photo links away. There were so many of them that they made the loading of the page slow and jumpy. If you can put them into a folder, we can then put a link to that one, and anyone can go to your folder to admire the pictures.

  9. I found two photos of KJU’s brother Kim Jong-chol whit an person, who looks very much like SMC Conductor Jang Ryong-sik.

    Does this mean anything special? (The photos were made in May 2015.)

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Interesting photos. I am not sure whether the man in the upper photo beside Kim Jong-chol is indeed Jang Ryong-sik. He looks younger, and is more likely to be embassy staff. That photo is supposed to date from May 2015 in London – though I would have expected to see also MBB guitarist Kang Phyong-hui in it. She was closely beside Jong-chol in the videos. According to Thae Jong-ho, the embassy official who defected, he bought only 4 tickets for the concert, and one of them is likely to have gone to a security official. He might be in the picture. Though he wears glassess … … I am not sure. Could even be Jang Ryong-sik …

      KJC has visited three Clapton concerts, as far as I know. One in 2006 in Germany, but think the lower photo is not from that concert. Different hair style.
      Another one in February 2011 in Singapore, then with a 20 member entourage, and I suppose the lower photo is from that visit.
      There we clearly have Jang Ryong-sik beside him. That was the time when his younger brother had recently been designated as the heir, but the death of Kim Jong-il was still thought to be at least 10 years or more in the future. Because of the well known musical inclinations of the older son, may be the Singapore trip was meant as a gift for him to placate the favouring of the younger son, and several musical stalwarts may have accompanied him to get a taste of international musical trends. Kim Jong-il was relatively internationally minded in his musical tastes. Both Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble and Unhasu Orchestra music attests to that. A twenty people delegation of a Kim family member and perhaps more than one chief conductor is certainly something worth noticing.

      I have often wondered whether we can hear Kim Jong-chol’s guitar in any of the studio recordings released by the DPRK media? If he is as good a guitarist as he is said to be, he might be inclined to let the world hear his guitar, even anonymously.

  10. MBfan said:

    On Jeon Hye ryon’s move to SMC: Could it be that she replaced Ri Sol lan? I saw her in the 20151010 concert.
    I could probably justify her being there because during SMC’s 내 나라 제일로 좋아, her face was not shown while playing the bass part.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Could well be, though it would be intriguing to understand why the SMC needs bass players exactly from the MBB. And are such moves promotions, demotions, or just changes of the environment?

      Some problem with the link.

  11. suki jin said:

    Why can not I upload my posts?

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      I do not know. This one came thorough without a problem. Sometimes Word Press does not like some email addresses, without any apparent reason.

  12. pekkakorhonen said:

    I found something very rare: Alla Pugatšova’s legendary 1989 concert in Pyongyang. Alla Pugatšova is the most famous Soviet/Russian singer. The video is dark and colours are faded, but Alla is a great artist and the concert is very good.

    Andrei Lankov wrote last year a short comment on the concert, something he heard from a local artist: “Tickets were sold by speculators for $100! Can you imagine what a $100 was in Pyongyang in the late eighties? This was crazy money, it could sustain a whole family for several months. We were all waiting for a miracle, and saw something mind blowing. Well, the music, the melodies. And the sound – the volume seemed unusual and created a very special atmosphere, which we were not accustomed to whatsoever. And the demeanor on stage – gestures, free movements. All this was unusual and bright, something one would like to emulate. The next day, everyone in the city began to sing the songs performed in the concert. Especially “Million scarlet roses”. All Pyongyang was talking about Pugacheva only – and on musicians this concert made an especially huge impression.”

    Original Russian here (, English translation by Kwaximus.

    This is indeed a rare video. See for yourself. Gets wilder towards the end. Glasnost in Pyongyang.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s