The Music Culture of North Korea

The Music Culture of North Korea

Photo by Young-Sun Jeon HK Research Professor at the Institute of Humanities for Unification in Konkuk University

North Korea is quite a rural, unknown and small country, but it also has a unique culture of music that should be shown to others. This country is quite a unique case to talk about, since it is a country that has walled itself off from the rest of the world’s cultural, artistic, and scientific evolution. As North Korea is a culturally isolated society, it must have been a musically isolated country too, right? North Korea is quite a new country in terms of world history, so it’s music culture is quite different from other countries and cultures.


Korean Patriotic Music

When North Korea established it’s state, music became a crucial role to stir patriotism and hope for that state to unite Koreans. The state in the country has a stronghold on what is produced, this is why North Korean music reflects their values of “Juche” or self reliance and self preservation. There were many patriotic songs, some famous ones are, “Aegukka” (anthem of the country), “Potato Pride” a North Korean pop song for kids about potatos, “Taejung kayo”, “We Will Go to Mount Peaktu”, and numerous more songs. These songs are filled with love for North Korean values, their leaders, and ideologies.


Regulations On the Culture

The culture in North Korea has large restrictions from the rulers of the country. North Korea had a ban and crackdown on Jazz music, it has also been known that the country makes in quite difficult to practice religion. This means, religious music and religious chants are quite nonexistent in the nation. The country also did crackdowns and South Korean music, such as K-Pop, Pansori, Trot, and more. These regulations were enforced for the reasons to limit the country from outside influences and to eliminate the threats of the Supreme leader’s rule of the country. Kim Jong-il did remove some regulations though, particularly on jazz.


Popular Culture of Music in North Korea

There was still a North Korean pop culture though. As long as the music did not threaten of disagree with the ruling leader’s ideology, the music was left alone. There was a Korean death metal band called, “Red War”. As to be expected, it did support the ideological norms of North Korea, but it did represent something different from North Korean culture since this genre of music came from Germany.

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