Yep, whilst the US and it allies pooh pooh anything about North Korea, five 16 year old accordionists from North Korea’s Kum Song School have hit YouTube in a big way: appearing at Norway’s Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes [8-12 February 2012], three boys and two girls’ version of A-ha’s ‘Take on me’ catapulted to ‘instant world attention’.
GuamDiary suggests watching the 4 minute version which clearly shows the five caught up in spirit and verve and captivating rhythm of a pop song that the Western mind does not associate with North Korea. How parochial!
The group’s programme has a Mozart piece, jazz, Korean folk tunes, ending with a rousing rendition of ‘Take on me’.
Forget about politics, the five North Koreans in less than 4 minutes lit up YouTube, thanks to their amazing talent.
We know of the musical talent from South Korea, but we hardly know little of the musicality of North Koreans, owing to a tight blackout in the West, broken only by moments when it serves western propaganda to display hundreds of North Koreans dancing like robots, to underscore the monotonous uniformity of a ‘cruel regime’.
Yet, during the New York Philharmonic concert in Pyongyang, televised worldwide on 8 February 2008, it was obvious in master classes the NYP held that students at the musical academy displayed talent worthy of concert halls in Europe, Asia, and the US, for example.
That one moment of ‘detente’ with the US had no follow up, sorry to say. And the west’s forged steel curtain crashed down again.
What should surprise us, but doesn’t, that Norway, an founding member and active member of NATO, has welcomed these North Korean youth to participate in a cultural festival. The main street western media nary breathes a word of it, nor existing Norwegian cultures ties with North Korea. Curious, isn’t it?
BR Myers ‘Cleanest race: how the North Koreans see themselves and why it matters’ paints the usual picture of a people whose every moment is staged and choreographed by big brother. An easy and obvious observation after eight years of reading everything he could about North Korea with occasional trips to the DPRK.
Were the shoe on the other foot, a North Korea scholar could return the favour by compiling a long laundry list of ‘staged’ and culturally managed, say, Americans. In fact, in a US State Department tour of the US after V E day, Jean Paul Sartre wickedly commented on the faceless conformity in America.
‘Take on Me’ is the payoff for Kim Il Sung. North Korea flattened to a heap of dust by US bombers during the Korean War; as it was being rebuilt, the founder of North Korea saw to it that the children of his country should and would learn a musical instrument, and the accordion became part and parcel of North Korean education. And here we are more than a half century later in Norway that five accordionists from the DPRK are displaying the fruit of a well rounded education. In this sense, North Koreans have nothing to envy in this world.
And what’s more, the immediate embrace of these three lads and two lasses forces open further the doors of exclusion that the US and its allies have tried to keep shut on North Korea.