And for all intents and purposes, that might as well be this entire blog post done with.
Music is effectively banned in North Korea. That is to say, unless it expressly praises the great leader and talks about how absolutely awesome communism is, it doesn’t get played. At all. On the one hand, it’s terrifying to think that there is actually a country on Earth that gives itself over to the nightmarish visions of George Orwell and Yevgeny Zamyatin. On the other, some of the propaganda music citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are forced to listen to is pretty awesome. It’s difficult to listen to this and not imagine you’re leading an army into battle, isn’t it?
To look for anything beyond that in terms of popular music is a waste of time, quite frankly. Any music with any sort of freedom of expression is either so heavily oppressed that it will never be found by Westerners, or is made by artists who have long relocated to Japan or South Korea, and perhaps cannot really be seen as North Korean any more. This also applied to all the artists that existed in Korea before it split in half – all of them became South Korean, almost by osmosis. Unfortunately, the culture of strict hegemony is the only culture, and somehow, anything that breaks from that isn’t really a part of the original culture any more. For more North Korean music of note, then, we must look to a time before Kim Il Sung and his reign of narcissism. Hyangak, the genre heard below, is one of the many classical and ancient forms of Korean music, and is officially older than Jesus; traditionally it accompanied an elaborate dance and was performed for the royal court.
And that’s about all there is to muster. If you want some great, varied Korean music, I guess you’ll have to wait until South Korea’s entry….