Artistic and administrative leadership
Director 현송월 Hyon Song-wol 玄松月, singer
Vice director 황진영 Hwang Jin-yong, composer (2012-2015?)
Vice director 김운룡 Kim Un-ryong, composer (2013?-)
Director of Creative Section 우정희 U Jong-hui, composer
Vice director of CS 안정호 An Jong-ho, composer (2012-2014?)
Vice director 장정애 Jang Jonge
It is not known what Jang Jonge does or did, as her name does not appear in connection with the products of the band. Hyon Song-wol visibly represents the band in formal occasions, and all composers have been active creating and arranging numerous songs. Especially the female composer U Jong-hui has been visible and active throughout the whole period. However, Kim Un-ryong’s work entered the repertoire only during 2013, which may indicate that he joined later. On the other hand, An and Hwang started to fade away from the repertoire during 2014-2015, which may indicate that they may have been phased out of the band. They also did not appear in any of the group photos of the band in October 2015. On the basis of this indirect evidence I thus suspect that only three administrative/artistic leaders are left.
Musicians. With the indispensable help of Arthur Yabe, I have now put this list in order – as accurately a possible. Names in grey indicate phasing out of the band – or at least that the person was not seen on stage during the last concert analyzed. The amount of grey is getting bigger. The list is not exact; I have not marked the presences and absences of every single person through every single concert.
Violin 선우향희 Sonu Hyang-hui 鮮于香姫 鲜于香姬 (20120706 – 20150907) ⁑＊＊
Violin 홍수경 Hong Su-kyong 洪秀卿 (20120706 – ) ＊→**→*
Viola & violin 차영미 Cha Yong-mi 車英美 车英美 (20120706 – 20150907; 20160511-) ＊→**→*
Cello 유은정 Yu Un-jong 俞恩貞 俞恩贞 (20120706 – 20160511) ＊→**
Violin 김은하 Kim Un-ha (20150427 – 20160511) ＊→**
Violin anonymous male (20161228) 중좌 jungjwa
Cello anonymous male (20161228) 중좌 jungjwa
Synthesizer 김향순 Kim Hyang-sun 金香淳 (20120706 – 20130201) **
– bayan (Russian type accordeon)
Synthesizer 리희경 Ri Hui-kyong 李熙景 李熙景 (20120706 – ) *→***→⁑＊＊→?
– tambourine and other percussion instruments occasionally
Piano 김영미 Kim Yong-mi 金英美 (20120706 – 20121010) ＊→**
– synthesizer (20130411 – 20160511)
Piano 김정미 Kim Jong-mi 金恩美 (20121221 – ) ＊→**→*
Synthesizer anonymous female (20161228) *
Guitar 강평희 Kang Phyong-hui 康玲熙, though known in much literature as 령희 Kang Ryong-hui, as her name was misread in 2012 (20120706 – 20140520)＊
Guitar AnonymousGuitarist (21040905-20150427)
Guitar 조경희 Jo Kyong-hui (20150907 – ) ＊→**→*
Bass 리설란 Ri Sol-lan 李雪蘭 李雪兰 (20120706 – 20130201)***
Bass 전혜련 Jon Hye-ryon 全惠蓮 (20130411 – 20160511) **
Bass anonymous transferree from CBB (20161228) *
Saxophone 최정임 Choe Jong-im 崔貞任 崔贞任 (20120706 – 20160511) ＊→**
– clarinet, various percussion instruments
Saxophone anonymous male (20161228) 대위 tewi
Drums 리윤희 Ri Yun-hui 李润熙 (20120706 – 20140904)＊
Percpad 한순정 Han Sun-jong 韓純情 (20140520) ＊→**
– drums (20150427 – 20160511)
Drums anonymous female (20161228) *
Vocals, original group + Ra
김유경 Kim Yu-kyong 金佑景 (20120706 -) ⁑＊＊→＊→⁑＊＊→*, 공훈배우 konghun peu
김설미 Kim Sol-mi 金雪美 (20120706 -20160218) *→***
류진아 Ryu Jina 柳进雅 (20120706 -20160511) **, 공훈배우 konghun peu
박미경 Pak Mi-kyong 朴美京 (20120706 – 20160311) **
박선향 Pak Son-hyang 朴善香 (20120706 -) **→*?
정수향 Jong Su-hyang 鄭水香 郑水香 (20120706 -20150428; 20161228)＊
리명희 Ri Myong-hui 李明姫 (20120825 – 20150427)＊
라유미 Ra Yu-mi 羅佑美 (20130201 – 20140904)＊, 공훈배우 konghun peu
Short term visitors and trainees
리옥화 Ri Ok-hua 李玉花 (20140904; 20161228) 중좌 jungjwa, 공훈배우 konghun peu
Anonymous1 (20140904), one time visitor
Anonymous1b (20140904), possible one time visitor
리수경 Ri Su-kyong (20150427 – 20151011) ** There exists a lady with the same name in Chongbong Band, but she is a different person
조국향 Jo Kuk-hyang (20151011 – 20160218; 20161228) **→＊
김효심 Kim Hyo-sim (20151011; 20161228) **→＊
오수연 O Su-yon (? -) **, has never visibly performed in a published concert
Anonymous2 (20160213 -20160511) *
Anonymous3 (20160213 -20160511) *
Anonymous4 (20160511 -20160511) **
유봉미 Yu Pong-mi (20160511 -) *; moved in from the Chongbong Band
Dates in parenthesis indicate their general time of service in the band as observed during their public appearances.
Stars indicate military rank:
⁑＊＊ (4 stars of equal size) 대위 tewi 大尉 (captain)
＊＊＊ 상위 sangwi 上尉 (senior lieutenant)
＊ ＊ 중위 jungwi 中尉 (lieutenant)
＊ 소위 sowi 少尉 (junior lieutenant)
중좌 jungjwa (lieutenant colonel; only the visiting star Ri Ok-hwa)
Most members of the band are graduates of the Kim Won Gyun Pyongyang University of Music (김원균평양음악대학 金元均平壌音楽大学). The accordionist Kim Hyang-sun is said to be a graduate of the musical school of the Mansudae Art Studio (만수대창작사 万寿台創作社). Of singers it is difficult to tell; many of them enter the stage after music oriented high school/gymnasium, or after some months of further studies. Opera singing probably requires more studies; only Pak Mi-kyong is known to have been trained as an opera singer.
The picture below is a slightly edited one, originally made by Arthur Yabe
In 2015.10.25, by the order of the supreme commander, a mass promotion of military ranks for members of State Merited Choir and Moranbong Band took place. According to KCNA the number of people promoted was 242, which is a good number. Also 56 honorary titles were awarded. The supreme leader apparently was satisfied with the concerts and the celebrations in general. As a result all MBB members, who had for the past years been in the rank of sowi / junior liutenant were promoted to that of jungwi / liutenant. A video of the ceremony here. In the same video one can see Kim Yu-kyong receiving either her nomination as Merited Artiste (02.16) or promotion back to the military rank of 륙군대위 ryuggun tewi / army captain, in which rank she started in 2012. Both promotions anyway took place in this ceremony. Hyon Song-wol of MBB (02.20) received something, but RS does not tell what. Hwang Un-mi (UO / SMC, 02.38) was promoted to the rank of 상좌 sangjwa colonel.
The names of the MBB promoted to 중위 chungwi are in the order that Rodong Sinmun (2016년 5월 9일) gave in its announcement; I do not know what the order signifies, except that musicians are first and singers second. But it is not the Korean alphabetical order. Arthur Yabe identified the ladies in the pictures.
전혜련 Jon He-ryon ①
유은정 Yu Un-jong ②
최정임 Choe Jong-im ③
홍수경 Hong Su-kyong ④
조경희 Jo Kyong-hui ⑤
김정미 Kim Jong-mi ⑥
한순정 Han Sun-jong ⑦
김은하 Kim Un-ha ⑧
류진아 Ryu Jina ⑨
박미경 Pak Mi-kyong
리수경 Ri Su-kyong
박선향 Pak Son-hyang
김효심 Kim Hyo-sim
조국향 Jo Kuk-hyang
오수연 O Su-yon
In the 20161228 concert all participating MBB members, whose shoulder marks could be observed, had been summarily demoted back to the rank of 소위 sowi/junior lieutenant, where they started while entering the band. Presumably the demotion concerned also those whose shoulder straps were not visible.
Best info on the band in the Japanese Wikipedia
in the Chinese Wikipedia
in the Chinese Baidu 百度百科http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E7%89%A1%E4%B8%B9%E5%B3%B0%E4%B9%90%E5%9B%A2&prd=button_doc_jinru
in Deutsche Wikipedia
and in the English Wikipedia
Almost nothing in the South Korean Wiki. This is a dangerous band.
Names and pictures of two other members of the organization were revealed on the occasion of giving a prize to the team that composed the song 철령아래 사과바다 Chŏllŏngare sakwa pada Sea of apples at the foot of Chol Pass. The prize was a watch with Kim Jong-un’s name engraved on it. The date was 2014.08.27. http://youtu.be/p3ozV8AQTOE.
Other announced members
차호근 Cha Ho-gun; poet. A song with his lyrics was performed for the first time in the 20130411 concert. After that he has written lyrics for numerous MBB songs.
길원금 Kil Won-gum 録音師, recording expert. Announced in 2014.08.27
A note on North Korean honorary titles
인민예술가 Inmin Yesulga People’s Artiste 人民藝術家
인민배우 Inmin Peu People’s Actor/Actress 人民俳優
공훈예술가 Konghun Yesulga Merited Artiste 功勲藝術家
공훈배우 Konghun Peu Merited Actor/Actress 功勲俳優
There are two ranks of honorary titles specifically for artists: merited artists, which is lower, and people’s artists, which presupposes lots of accomplishments after the first rank. No problems with this.
East Asians in general, and North Koreans here formally with their honorary titles, make a further distinction between ”artists” and ”actors/actresses”. Simply put, an artist is someone who creates ”art” at a table: a painter, a writer, a composer. She creates physical objects. An actor is someone who performs on stage. She creates a temporal experience, but nothing that you can touch with your hand remains afterwards. There is a status difference between these concepts. One would expect accomplished orchestra directors to be ”배우 Peu”, but no, they are ”예술가 Yesulga”, which implies that because they are in a leadership role, a higher ranking title is used about them. The Chinese character for actor is 俳, which is composed of two elements: 亻”human” and 非 ”not”, giving the actor the original meaning of ”non-human”. The idea apparently has been that of a shaman who has behaved strangely, or a comedian doing the same on stage trying to make spectators laugh. Thus it is a lower ranking concept. This kind of distinction does not appear in European languages, where the idea is that a composition remains only ink on paper until someone gives it life by performing it in front of an audience. Two different acts are needed for the creation of musical art. As a European the Korean distinction does not make much sense to me as I have learned to think differently. KCNA’s translation policy is not consistent either; the students it apparently employs sometimes translate peu as actor/actress, sometimes as artiste. I have not been consistent either. Using different languages easily leads to temporal schitsophrenias. Anyway, from now on I attempt to translate both peu and yesulga as artiste, retaining the French form of writing the word, preferred by North Koreans. Not recognizing any distinction is the most sensible way for a European, and it simultaneously displays due respect towards the skilled artists of Moranbong Band.