North Korea Bans Music But Hails Kim Jong Un’s New Orchestra

North Korea Bans Music But Hails Kim Jong Un's New Orchestra
A singer in the 10-member North Korean girl band Moranbong performed in concert in 2014. Kim Jong Un has created a new orchestra, Pyongyang said on Monday. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, July 28 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un is following in the musical footsteps of his mother by creating a new band, but Pyongyang has begun confiscating certain kinds of music from North Korean homes, according to a source.

The North Korean leader’s new Chongbong Orchestra consists mainly of brass instruments and plays “light music,” North Korean state media outlet KCNA reported Tuesday.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the new troupe’s mission is to create music for the masses – a mission currently espoused by the first orchestra created under Kim, the Moranbong Band.

Kim’s mother, Ko Young Hui, was a Japan-born professional dancer who reportedly never married the North Korean leader’s father, but exerted significant influence in North Korea’s performing arts development in the 1980s.

Ko has been credited with turning North Korea’s Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble and Wangjaesan Light Music Band into orchestras catering to North Korea’s elite.

But after her death, and under Kim Jong Il’s directive, the groups began to focus on creating music “for the people.”

Chongbong Orchestra members on Monday were touted as “ideological scouts, the bugles of revolution, ideological flag bearers,” but the state’s music policy is reaching North Korean households in other ways.

Pyongyang has ordered house-to-house searches to confiscate banned music, South Korean outlet Daily NK reported Tuesday.

The decree from Kim Jong Un requires the destruction of tapes and CDs that pose a threat to the regime, according to sources in North Korea.

Banned songs include the soundtrack from a North Korea movie about a Robin Hood-type hero who lived in the 16th century – and one source said many of the songs have previously been banned.

“The local propaganda departments are getting inminban [people’s unit] heads to collect cassettes and CDs from people’s homes and are combing through them,” a source told Daily NK.

“If even one song from the banned list is discovered, they incinerate the whole thing.”

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