Sunday, 11 December 2016

Kim Jong Un Hopes These Pop Stars Can Improve China-North Korea Cooperation

Moranbong, the all-female pop group North Korean leader Kim Jong Un founded, will travel to China to give a series of performances aimed at improving the relationship between the countries, North Korean media tracker KCNA Watch reported Wednesday.

The band will be joined by the North Korean military choir -- also known Merited State Chorus of the Korean People's Army -- to perform in China over the next week, according to South Korean news agency Joong Ang Daily News. 

The trip will be Moranbong's first concert tour outside North Korea, the agency added.

Kim Jong Un formed the group in 2012 as part of a "grandiose plan to bring about a dramatic turn in the field of literature and arts," according to North Korean state news agency KCNA. Many of the pop band's songs, with titles like "My Country Is The Best!" and "Follow The Party," talk about the legitimacy of the Kim regime and swear allegiance to the country's communist Workers' Party.

The group's live performances are typically restricted to high-level North Korean officials, experts noted on Sino-NK, a collective of Koreanists and Sinologists. 

The shows in China will also be closed to the public. North Korean officials, including the North Korean Workers Party secretary, arts and culture minister and army lieutenant-general, are scheduled to attend, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Officials from both countries said the performances in China would enhance cultural exchanges and improve mutual understanding between the two countries. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press statement that the "goodwill visit and performance" would improve the "friendship" between citizens of the two countries.

China is North Korea's largest trade partner, and its communist government supplies the Hermit Kingdom with goods such as food, weapons and energy sources. China is also North Korea's largest export and import partner, according to a 2013 study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In October, the two countries opened a mutual trade zone that facilitated bilateral trade, Yonhap reported.

In a live performance, Moranbong band members perform in front of a screen showing photos of Kim Jong Un, followed by footage of a missile launching, to which the crowd erupts in applause.


Ji Sub Jeong contributed reporting.

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