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1290 thoughts on “Forum”

  1. 과학자 said:

    But in what capacity was Hyŏng Song Wŏl participating in those negotiations? My Korean is not very good to understand everything in today’s media articles from the South. They were referring to her simply as «모란봉악단 단장», yet Moranbong — at least, as a band — is not, apparently, sent to Pyŏngchang. That is just a little confusing. Can someone better skilled in Korean language clarify what was her position as a negotiator, if there is indeed enough information regarding all this?

    P.S. You can’t deny comrade Marshal has a remarkable taste in women, can you? 😉

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Yes, his wife Ri Sol Ju is an excellent singer with energetic stage performance. She is a true artist.

      Any closer historical relationship between him and Hyŏng Song Wŏl, which you perhaps are hinting at, is a South Korean rumour, of which no kind of evidence has ever been presented. If you have the evidence, put it on. If you do not have, stop hinting at the rumour.

      • 과학자 said:

        “There is no smoke without fire”, as they say, but I, like you, do not believe there was a “relationship”, as you have put it, between them, due to an ‘upward’ age difference of a few years. In my understanding, it is an even bigger no-no in East Asia than in Europe. It is more than possible that she was his teenage romantic crush, however, as those dating rumours had to start from something.

        Has any new reliable information on negotiations come out yet, by the way?

  2. There is still chance that MBB will join?

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Nobody knows. A rumour again. But I would suppose that as long as the parties are negotiating, and the atmosphere shown at the beginning of the meeting looked rather amicable, basically anything is still possible. Both the North and the South appear determined to keep the show in their own hands, but that game requires reaching satisfying results. Maybe the Samjiyon Band was the first bargain, but not necessarily the last one. 140 unspecified people are a lot. Of course cold showers are possible, and the false missile alert in Hawaii was an ominous sign of outsider interference, but I hope both Korean governments keep their wise heads cool.

  3. Today in the evening news on Russian state TV was told that Moranbong Band will take part in the Winter Olympics culture program.

    • kwaximus said:

      I don’t watch TV but did a quick check. Nothing definite by the state channels. It is either “DPRK suggested a tour by the MB to the Olympics” or “initially it was supposed to be the MB”, while referring to Samjiyon’s confirmed visit.
      Which of the channels said the MB will Be part of the delegation?

  4. As for if it really happens nobody knows. It may be changed in the last minute. Remember the performance in China that was suddenly interrupted.

  5. suki jin said:

    The Samjiyeon Orchestra(삼지연 관현악단) is not the same organization as the Samjiyeon band(삼지연 악단) we know, and N.K is most likely an orchestra created specifically for this concert in the south.
    The organization will be a union of traditional Samjiyeon bands plus a variety of external artists.
    Therefore, it is stil possible that some MBB’s members may participate individually within about 140 members of Samjiyeon Orchestra.
    We have to stick to it.

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Very good, this sounds sensible, and explains the high number of people. As far as I know SB does not have its own singers; they come from elsewhere in concerts as guests. Its mother organization is the Mansudae Art Troupe, which can arrange all kinds of artists to fill in the ranks of SO, but within 140 people there certainly is space for a good number of MBB members.

      The high number may possibly imply that many NKorean musicians and culture people actually want to visit the South. They could have offered a 20 people orchestra as well. Much easier from the point of view of security. As SKorea will pay for the expenses, North simply put on the table an orchestra name and the number 140, without specifying what is inside. There must be right now lots of administrative fighting in the North about who actually will be included in that number. If MBB members have any influence, at least some of them might be able to push themselves in. I do not believe that there is a master plan, with everything decided beforehand.

      A different problem will be what kind of songs will be presented in the concerts. Instrumentals and traditional Korean songs are not a problem, but most of the song production of the past 70 years is very political, and might not be acceptable to the South. Unification songs there certainly will be, and anti-Japanese songs might be welcome for all Koreans. It is also possible to change a few words in the lyrics; they do that all the time in the North.

      • suki jin said:

        The Korean Central News Agency(N.K) even described the group as an ” art troupe(예술단), ” except for the ” Samjiyeon Orchestra ” when it announced its joint statement. It is presumed that N.Koreans don’t know the Samjiyeon Orchestra.

        The director(단장) of Samjiyeon Orchestra looks certain to be Hyun-songwol.
        She attended the meeting not as ‘the director of Moranbong Band(모란봉악단 단장)’, but as the ‘director of Orchestra(관현악단 단장)’.
        And Ahn Jeong-ho, the stage manager(무대감독), is also involved with MBB

        If they have to fight, they have the benefit of the doubt. But it will be decided politically rather than by struggle.

        When asked whether there was any talk about Moranbong band at the conference, a South Korean official replied, ” We didn’t have any. ”
        It is presumed that this avoids sensitive issues with each other.

        The contents of the concert were agreed in outline.
        The South asked the North to organize the performances of the art corps into folk songs(민요) or classical music, and the North reportedly answered that it would organize them into world-class masterpieces and folk songs.
        I notice here a folk song.
        MBB sang four folk songs in an unusual way during the last concert.
        Is this a hint?

        • kwaximus said:

          The MB songs you refer to are not folk songs. They are folk style songs. Arirang and the likes of it are probably what is meant but the South.

  6. 과학자 said:

    Today, Yonhap News have reported as follows:

    “South Korea said Monday that the North has requested that its performers be allowed to cross the border at the truce village of Panmunjom when it visits the South for concerts during the Winter Olympics.

    After inter-Korean talks, North Korea agreed to send the band, including an 80-member orchestra, singers and dancers, to perform in Seoul and Gangneung, 240 kilometers east of the capital, according to Seoul’s unification ministry.”


    This article, and a few released earlier, mention in the beginning a “140-member art delegation”, nothing more. Whether “singers and dancers” include the remaining 60 people, or these shall be other musicians, is not clear to me. However, there is yet no sign that Moranbong will perform as a distinct band, nor will we likely get to know about any individual singers until the very last minute, since it was agreed on 15th January that, “practical matters that are raised afterwards will be discussed in the form of document exchange through the Panmunjeom communications channel” (source: ).

    Hyŏng Song Wŏl has been a deputy chief delegate on Monday talks. She is also an alternate member of CC, WPK, effective October 2017. Her responsibilities might now include more than just the management of Moranbong Band.

    • 과학자 said:

      UPDATE: Uriminzokkiri’s YouTube channel has been terminated once again. However, they did release a video yesterday, which reported on a 140-member («140여명») [performing] arts detachment («예술단파견») to be sent to Seoul and Kangnŭng, with no specific mention of Samjiyon Orchestra, which was earlier mentioned by sources in the South. I wonder if that means it could be still a kind of open question, as to who will participate in this ‘Olympic «예술단»’. The video in question is available here: (mind the buffering time!).

  7. kennethm said:

    At first I thought the Gangwon-do governor Choi Moon-soon simply was trying to boost tickets-sales by talking of inviting the Moranbong Band to the Olymics. They are too much of a national symbol of the north to be performing anywhere else but at the opening ceremony. I suppose the exact programme of the ceremony should be kept secret until the very beginning of the show so no one would know in advance.

    I could imagine the show beginning in complete darkness when a single little girl starts playing gayageum solo the intro to Arirang Alone (sanged by Cho Yong-pil in Pyongyang 2005: )

    Song So-hee (she already had an important role in the minus one year celebration concert) sings the first verse while two very large white figures of fabric start emerging from the ground by filling them with air.

    For the second verse Kim Sol-mi (now with longer hair) enters wearing traditional garment singing solo with Sonu Hyang-hui added. A children’s choir sings the refrain.

    In the third verse Kim Sol-mi sings the boat from Paektusan textline answered by Song So-hee’s textline about boat from Hallasan. They stand in front of each other joining hands, singing of awaiting the morning together at Dokto while the large white figures now have formed a replica of the reunification monument in Pyongyang high over their heads.

    The Korean map comes down from above on top of the monument with the Olympic rings on it and the whole Moranbong Band joins in performing the third fast verse of the Arirang version on “Times of happiness is on its way with rich harvests for our 3000 ri land”.

    Finally Moranbong Band performs Snow on new years day with lyrics changed to “day of Olymics” and “3000 ri land” to “the world” forming a symbolic wish for good luck and reminding of the new year’s speech held by Kim Jong-un. And that’s all.

    And no, I don’t think this will happen but you never know. After all the did feed Mr. Trump with a Dokto shrimp when he visited Soul… Sorry for the long rant!

  8. SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) — South and North Korea agreed Wednesday to field a joint women’s ice hockey team for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and march together under a “unified Korea” flag at the opening ceremony…

    Really happy to see the koreas coming together again after so long time and there was also another very interesting news:

    … The two sides also agreed to hold a joint cultural event at Mount Kumgang on the North Korean east coast before the opening of the Feb. 9-25 Olympics and to conduct joint training of skiers at Masikryong Ski Resort in the North.

    Could that mean that maybe MB will perform at Mt. Kumgang with a south korean art troupe?

  9. At the moment it doesn’t look rosy for the concerts in SK.

    Hyon Song-wol and six other people planned to visit SK as a delegation, to find a fitting concert hall.

    But now the tour has been canceled aprubtly by NK.

    Experts think it has to do with the fact that NK will held a big military parade, one day before the olympics in pyongchang begin (February 8th marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the KPA in his current form).

    • pekkakorhonen said:

      Thus far no additional news of the situation. Preparations for the 8 Feb military parade seem to have started in late November 2017. Apparently we have a situation similar with December 2015, with people connected with the foreign ministry and cultural affairs push for international diplomacy, and at least part of the military administration could care less, pushing only another show of military preparedness. However, the planned parade does not seem to be a huge one, consisting mostly of a moderate number of marching soldiers, a military band and a number of motor vehicles. The big question is what the motor vehicles are carrying. If they are carrying missiles, you can say good bye to all NKorean concerts in the South.

      Again we are left wondering about the extent of “unified command” in the northern side; also in the southern side its functioning is not altogether clear now, as the South Korean government took the diplomatic initiative out of the hands of the USA. However, at least according to his New Year speech, Kim Jong Un this time appears be on the side of the cultural diplomatists. Or was there 3 weeks ago. The game goes on.

      I wonder whether Hyon Song Wol and An Jong Ho have anything to do with the MBB any more. Probably not. Their titles refer to the Samjiyon Orchestra, not the MBB. According to composer and arranger information, An was phased out of MBB around 2014, while we have not seen any public connection between Hyon and MBB since the ill-fated Beijing trip in Dec 2015. In its current form as a special section of the SMC the Band does not need any kind of administrative leadership beyond one senior officer, currently Kim Ok Ju. I rather suspect that the present task of Hyon and An is to put together something completely new. That would be ok for me; always interested in seeing new cultural innovations. MBB has been placed within narrow bars, and does not have much leeway for creative movement any more.

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