Forum

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 morandisco@gmail.com

787 thoughts on “Forum”

  1. suki jin said:

    Do you know?
    The fact that Lee Seol-ju visited the Incheon(S.K) in 2005
    I suspected one of the kids in the doghouse as Park Sun-hyang.
    But it is impossible to confirm.
    (※Lee is born in 1989, Park is 1~2 years younger than lee)
    If all the members have cleared the facial makeup, maybe she will be the most beautiful.
    http://mbn.mk.co.kr/pages/news/newsView.php?category=mbn00006&news_seq_no=3107324

    At that time, Lee was not interested in Korea.
    People did not know that she was going to be First Lady.
    The interest of the Korean media was in the twin sisters.
    Does anyone know the latest news of this sister?

    • suki jin said:

      The video is wrong. Raise again.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Very interesting videos and photos you have found. The girl in the 2005 visit could be Pak Son Hyang. She is beautiful, with or without make up. The probability of her visiting the South is there; the girls on that trip were from important families, and many girls from important families got good musical education and appeared later on stage. However, it is more likely that the girl in the video is Yu Pyol-nim 유별님, who in 2005 was Ri Sol Ju’s classmate in the Kumsong Institute 금성학원, and who later performed in Wangjaesan Yesuldan and Unhasu Orchestra. Also other classmates have been recognized in videos and photos of that trip to South. Please see my biography of Ri Sol Ju here https://unhasu.wordpress.com/singers/. The original 민족21 article has disappeared from internet. The whole journal seems to have disappeared! Pity.

      I do not understand what you mean by doghouse.

      The twins are, I believe, Choe Un-hyang 최은향 & Choe Mi-hyang 최미향, apparently again from good families + good education + appearance on stage. In 2010.05.xx they were students at the Kim Won Gyun University of Music and performed on front stage with the Unhasu Orchestra. Your photo that says “KCNA 2012” is from the end of the 2010 concert. https://unhasu.wordpress.com/201005xx/ The photo “KCNA 2010” has probably been taken a year or two earlier.

      Later they sometimes could be seen in the choir in UO concerts, but no more in front. After that I have not seen them anywhere. Marriage and kids?

  2. suki jin said:

    Battle MBB(N.K) VS Korea Korean folk song singer(S.K)
    in field ‘The Nodul River side’(노들강변)
    Watch it once


    I do not have a lot of knowledge about music, but …
    MBB : modern and close to vocal music.
    S.K : close to Korean classical song.
    Nevertheless
    I am happy to sing the same song in South and North.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      I like both versions, thank you for presenting them here. Do you anything more about the song and its history? I only have seen said that it is a Korean folk song, and that Nodul was some kind of crossing over Han River south of Seoul. Is my information correct? Here I saw the year 1934. There is also creator info. Good. Any more info?

    • MBfan said:

      Do both 노들강변 songs mean the same thing? I noticed the changes in lyrics and by the looks of it, the S. Korean one seems to be the original version (which reminds me that the song was made even before the division. The North must have modified their lyrics.)
      Lyrics: Shin Bul chul
      Composition: Mun Ho wol

      • It’s the same song.
        The lyrics are slightly different. It consists of three verse in total, and MBB did not sing the last verse.
        I wish MBB will sing ‘enlightenment song’ again.

    • It is not a traditional Korean classical music but a song combined with Western-style modern music.(It is a popular type of music in Korea in the 1930s)
      It was a forbidden song in North Korea.
      But, Kim Jong-Il allowed ‘the enlightenment song’(계몽기가요) before the liberation(~1945) to sing because it was not associated with capitalism.
      Recently, the KCTV is introducing these songs.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        I had not understood that the place is actually in the heart of Seoul. I sometimes used metro line 9 last summer, but never realized that it ran beside the location of the song. There seems to be nothing political in the lyrics, only some kind of craving and nostalgy. Nothing about the evil Japanese, etc. If Kim Jong Il allowed its performance, perhaps he liked the melody or something else in it.

      • Shin Bul Chul, who wrote the lyrics of that song, moved to the north after liberation from Japan. In 1955 he received the title “Merited Artist” …

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Thus it may be that he himself changed his own lyrics there?

      • MBfan said:

        Ah, so down South it was composer Mun Ho wol who got recognized. The picture in the middle of the video (S. Korean version) shows his wife and others standing beside the monument which has the music sheet of 노들강변 engraved in it. Interesting info.

      • MBfan said:

        PEE has a whole volume of such songs from the Period of Enlightenment. The titles are at the detail and yes, it does sound classical Korean and Western (listen to 눈물젖은 두만강): https://youtu.be/Fm_p9BCbxJo

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        There it is indeed in stone! I did not notice the detail when I first watched the video. If it has been such a big hit in the 1930, many or most older North Koreans also must have known and remembered it well. No wonder it is still performed in both Koreas. The song probably contains some kind of story, but it cannot be seen directly from the lyrics.

        New PEE uploads in YouTube. Someone is doing important cultural work.

      • Jeon Hye Young and PEE perform “Nodol Kangbyon”:

        Jeon Hye Young 전혜영 was favored by Kim Jong Il.
        In the Korean “wiki”-article about Jeon Hye Young it is written: ” … 10살 때부터 재일교포를 위한 만찬에 초대되었는데 거기서 조선의 옛 노래인 《노들강변》을 불렀다고 한다. …” (in English: it is said that from the age of 10 she was singing for the invited Koreans from Japan old Korean songs, e.g. “Nodul Kangbyon” …)

      • Re the stone in the video: next to the stone are the widow of Mun Ho Wol and a certain Son Mok In. Son Mok In was a cousin of Mun Ho Wol and also a composer!
        Among the works of Son Mok In is the song “Tears of Mokpo(?)” 목포의 눈물 written in 1934.
        In here we come back to MBB.
        Here is an early video sung by “Moranbong”:

        In this video Son Mok In is mentioned as composer!
        Interestingly Son Mok In’s political ambitions were not on the revolutionary side, he was on good terms with the Japanese during the colonial era.
        Nevertheless his songs are performed in North Korea. It is not always politics …

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Very interesting connections of people and styles. This song 목포의 눈물 performed by the Moranbong Chorus in 2008 sounds clearly like a Japanese enka. “It is not always politics” is a good observation. Music has its own sphere of power, overlapping but not completely subsumable under politics.

  3. moalian said:

    A picture of Jo Guk-hyang, posted approx. in April 2015 by Jaka Parker on Instagram. The same Jaka Parker also uploaded a short video on his Youtube channel of his visit to the Moranbong Band performance for the 70th Anniversary of Workers Party Foundation in October 2015;

    I do not think he realize Jo Guk-hyang was on stage again !!

    For identification I reviewed this picture with the pictures taken of Jo Guk-hyang during the interview in the lobby of the hotel in Beijing. Have a close look at her features such as the shape of the right ear.

    • AHA! Very cute.
      She is the future of MBB

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      I do not think there is any doubt that she is Jo Kuk-hyang. Jaka Parker appears to have uploaded the photo in late March 2015, and Jo appeared on stage with Moranbong Band in September the same year (if not in April; the quality of the video was too bad). What I do not understand is that Parker tells that the photo is from Ryulgok Music School, but it is supposed to be a Middle (Secondary) School, for 11-15 year old students. Jo being 15 in the picture is easy to believe, but did she join the MBB at that age, or perhaps after becoming 16 sometime during the summer? … Jo Kuk-hyang in MBB certainly is very young, but more like 18, not 15 … or do some students stay in the school for high school studies ??? … Or is this a picture NOT taken by J. Parker himself, but an earlier picture that somehow came into his possession? Jo is doing a perfect theatrical pose in this picture, but practically all other photos by Parker are not of the same style. There is posing in many of them, but ordinary amateur style.

      After searching, I found that Jo Kuk-hyang performed with Unhasu Orchestra with two other Ryulgok Middle School students in June 2012 wearing the same school uniform as in the photo. At that time she certainly was a teenager. UO 20120606 at 16.12 조선의 노래 Chosŏn ye nore. In the following song we see also her teacher Kim Song-hui 김성희, who is an UO solist.

      • moalian said:

        I do not think there is any doubt Jaka Parker took the picture, have a look at this

        #Selfie #BeatifulNorthKorea #Beautiful #NorthKorea #DPRK #pyongyang #instagram #singer

        A post shared by Jaka Parker (@jakaparker) on

        There are a few short video’s of the show, see below, Jo Kuk-hyang is on the left.

        The postings read that the students of the Ryulgok Music School gave a performance for the Indonesian Ambassador to celebrate the 50th Kimilsungia flower show that is held every year in Pyongyang. The Kimilsungia Orchid was presented in 1965 by Indonesia’s founding president, Sukarno, explaining the link with the Indonesian Embassy and Jaka Parker. Early 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the annual flower show. Maybe Jaka Parker can confirm the date of the picture and video’s.

      • It is very difficult to investigate women’s past, but sometimes it is exciting.

        If Jaka’s record is true, she is estimated to be born in 1999.
        So, in 2015, her age is 16 and she debuts on MBB.
        It is strange to be promoted to a lieutenant(중위) at only 16 years old.
        Upload a picture of the evidence against this.
        She may have graduated from middle school in 2015.

        He may have mistaken the year of the event.
        – 1964 North Korea-Indonesia diplomatic relations
        – 1965 Visit to Kim Il Sung Indonesia

        This is a joke.
        She was also growing at the time.

        If she is in South Korea, she is still a minor.
        Therefore, she can not drink and smoke, and because she is not economically independent, all her proceeds must be received by her parents.
        However, if she has her parents’ permission, she can marry.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        I do not doubt that Jaka P. took the pictures. The problem is what also Suki Jin here raises: her absolutely rapid ageing in 2015. I am not able to understand that problem. Youtube does not provide much help. We can see her in 2012 in two concerts (this info from Arthur Yabe). 20120425 here https://youtu.be/N8N8y34hbZI
        20120606 here https://youtu.be/TkD9Ti9txqw
        If she was 12 at that time, like she looks, she would well be 15 in 2015, but not 18-20 in the autumn of 2015. Do we have two persons with the same name who look very similar?

        We also have a short video of the Ryulgok school, where a teacher announces that both MBB singers Jo Kuk Hyang and Ryu Jina used to be students of that school.

        Thus there certainly is a connection with Jo and the school, but but but … which Jo Kuk Hyang?

  4. I get a hint at the age of 조국향 and try to get back to the MBB soldier debate again.
    That is, “Ranks Accessory Theory’”
    Let’s enjoy the next quiz

    If anyone finds the right answer, please leave a comment

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      I do not know North Korean rules, but I would say that only in picture no 3 the behaviour is not 100% correct, because they bow while wearing a military dress. But I am waiting with interest your interpretation.

    • I also do not know how to greet the N.Korean soldiers.
      But I judged it by referring to the S.Korean method and other N.K videos

      NO.2 (Not judge) If they are civilians : ‘Attention’, soldiers : ‘Salute’
      NO.7 (Wrong) The handshake should be done with one hand, and the waist should not be bent. However, it is not a serious problem because not a strict place.
      NO.3 (Wrong) Soldiers should never be. But MBB bowed all over the performance(Except, wearing hat and only NO.4 performance)

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Could we then perhaps conclude that the MBB members wear military dress, have military ranks, and work as musical soldiers in the DPRK war against foreign cultural infiltrations, but they quite likely have no formal military training of any length in real barracks with real weapons. The way they behave on stage is determined by choreography rather than military customs. They are soldiers, but of a very special kind.

        Perhaps the line between soldiers and civilians is not very sharp in North Korea. Kim Jong Un used to salute in a military way in 2012, as he is a four-star general and marshal, but after a few months he just stopped the practice and started acting like a civilian. I have not seen an explanation of what it meant, if it meant anything.

  5. The School System in North Korea:
    Elementary School 소학교 from 6 – 11
    Lower Class Middle School 초급중학교 11 – 14
    Higher Class Middle School 고급줄학교 14 – 17

    Sometimes in English only Ryulgok Middle scholl is written; so the students might be from the Lower Class or Higher Class Middle School.

    in http://www.chosonsinbo.com/solmaji/archives/26
    eg only the Higher Class Middle School is mentioned and the text refers to a singer (Kim Jin Hyang) who is already 18 years old.

    Thus Jo Kuk Hyang could have been a Student of the Ryulgok Higher Class Middle School in the Videos of jakaparker.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Ah, this solves the age issue. Thanks a lot. I was mistaken by once again thinking in terms of the Japanese school system (中学校). Thus she would probably have been born in 1997, was 15 in 2012 when she first performed with Unhasu Orchestra though looking much younger, graduated in March 2015 from the Chestnut Valley Higher Level Middle School at the age of 18, and joined the Moranbong Band. The school uniform makes girls look like children, while the MBB dress and make-up makes them look like adults.

    • N.Korean education system was reformed in 2013.

      It is presumed that JO could not enjoy the benefits of reform. Because she graduated elementary school already.

      There are 3 ways to calculate age in Korea.
      1. Traditional method : 00(this year-birth year) +1year old (Korea is 1 year old at the moment of birth)
      2. The usual method : 00 old (mainly used in media and introductions, because I do not know the date of birth of someone)
      3. Legal method : 00 years old or 00-1 years old (because it requires precise calculation such as court, bank, etc.)

      There are two opposite ‘FACT’
      – 04/2015 Jaka’s poto : JO is still a student
      – 08/2015 Animation 소년장수’s Subtitles, CASE1 : no school name(률곡고급중학교) in front of JO. So she graduated at least in March 2015. (In N.K, graduation in March, April entrance school system)
      These two facts can not occur at the same time.

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        According to the Instagram information (95 weeks ago), Jaka Parker’s photo was uploaded in 03/2015, during the last week if I calculated it correctly, but anyway in March. So it must have been taken before her graduation.

        I think the 00 type of calculation, namely that a person is considered to be 0 years 0 days old when s/he is born, is enough for us.

      • Because ‘FACT’ is not true, I have to ‘subjunctives’
        There are many scenarios, but it’s hard to explain
        In conclusion, I believe she was born in 1998 or 1999.
        I also considered her body shape in video and photographs.

        The event was held on April 9, 2015. I checked on Google.
        The place is “Taedonggang Diplomatic Club”

        ※ In Picture (N.K education system) age is 00-1

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Yes, it is a very complicated picture. I calculated again the weeks shown in the Instagram time calculator, and noticed that Jaka Parker has uploaded Ryulgok School student videos there during three consecutive weeks. They seem to contain photos of at least two different meetings, one from a rehearsal, one from a celebration performance. During the same week when the 50th anniversary of the Kimilsongia flower celebrations was posted, he has also posted a photo of “#The #2nd #Graduation #Ceremony of #Pyongyang #University of #Science and #Technology #Graduate #School”. Thus I would conclude that it is not possible to read anything definite from the dates (no surprise). Videos&photos taken in earlier weeks may have been posted later, and a graduation ceremony can have taken place in April, not necessarily in March.

      • I crosschecked various information.
        April 9, 2015 is the oldest date.
        I can not look at the North Korean website.
        However, three pieces of information are giving the same date.
        So I am sure.

        Events attended by JO are not directly related to Kimilsongia.
        She attended the North Korea and Indonesia Friendship Meeting.
        https://www.flickr.com/photos/willow200man/
        http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/full/2015/04/15/77/1200000000AEN20150415002900325F.html
        http://www.kcna.co.jp/calendar/2015/04/04-09/2015-0409-024.html

      • pekkakorhonen said:

        Your Instagram displays uploading dates, mine only calculates weeks since uploading. I do not know why. Anyway, the date 2015.04.09 seems to be clear, no problem about that. The graduation date of Jo Kuk Hyang, and her specific age at that time, are something that we are not able to determine with any kind of certainty. Nor is there so much need for that. We have learned many new things over the discussion.

    • 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.


  6. 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. https://morandisco.wordpress.com/on-prehistory/

      • 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 https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/4lazb0/street_food_in_north_korea/

      • 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.

  7. 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:
    http://www.kcna.kp/kcna.user.home.movie.retrieveMovieList.kcmsf#

    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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDuIbEMW0cM

        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.

  8. Bawris said:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oYJ6eyIzjs 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.

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