Does North Korea have K-pop girl groups? Defector sheds light on country's music industry
A North Korean defector states that there are girl groups similar to Girls' Generation in North Korea
Weeks after Kim Jong-un called K-pop a vicious cancer in North Korea, there have been some surprising updates. Previously, the North Korean leader had stated that South Korean pop culture was ruining the youths of North Korea. He was calling for a strict ban that would make sure that no forms of entertainment like K-pop or K-dramas would leak into the country. It was also revealed that there would be a punishment of working up to 15 years in labor camps for anyone who was caught consuming such media.
However, it seems to be that the country has its very own girl groups that are very similar to K-pop girl groups. While there is harsh censorship in North Korea, musicians and bands do exist that release music and perform in the country. Not exactly a K-pop group, but Moranbong Band is an all-girls band that was known for being the first all-female band in the country at that time. But a North Korean defector shed more light on the music industry in the country.
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Girl groups in North Korea
In a South Korean variety show, ‘Now On My Way to Meet You’ aired on Channel A, the North Korean defector, Kim Keum-hyuk had an interview. He revealed that there are girl groups in North Korea that are very similar to K-pop girl groups. Citing iconic second-gen group Girls' Generation, he said that we shouldn’t be surprised that there are girl group performances like theirs. Consisting of eight to nine members, there are several girl groups that wear short pants and perform.
The hosts were shocked as they asked Keum-hyuk to elaborate. He explained that while the groups were like the K-pop girl groups in some aspects, there are lots of limitations. He pointed out that all of the girl group members had to have the same short hair. That is just one of the many rules they have to follow. While they do get to wear revealing clothes like shorts and cute tops, it is not as flashy and glamorous as the outfits and makeup seen in K-pop.
Along with that, there is also a common theme in all of the songs that the girl groups sing. The lyrics of all the songs end up praising the ruling party of North Korea. Keum-hyuk also tried to explain why girl groups were cropping up when K-pop was banned in the country. He said, “The North Korean party is strengthening its censorship over South Korean culture. Last year, almost 10K students confessed. So while strengthening its cultural sanction, it is showing off that they can also do the same thing and is trying to deter defiance."
Despite the strict censorship and the recent ban, K-pop has always played a part in North Korea. On several diplomatic events between North and South Korea, K-pop groups have attended and performed. Girl groups like Fin.K.L, Baby V.O.X and Red Velvet have performed in Pyongyang since 1999.