North Korea’s girl band Moranbang cancels shows, leaves China abruptly

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Kim Jong Un’s personal band has cancelled its “friendship performances” in China.

An all-female North Korean pop band formed by leader Kim Jong Un abruptly canceled a Beijing concert on Saturday and headed back home to Pyongyang, Chinese media and the concert venue said. Updated Dec. 12 at 11:12EST: The first overseas performance of North Korea’s Moranbong Band was cancelled just hours before their show in Beijing today, Dec. 12.The Associated Press recently got a sneak peek at Boy General, the North’s hottest new game release, a spinoff of a new TV animation series that is both beautifully produced and genuinely fun to watch — suggesting Pyongyang is trying to win back an audience drawn to the banned Chinese and South Korean dramas that flow across its borders.

A member of staff at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, where the group was to play, said the show was cancelled for “some unknown reason,” according to Reuters. The app became an immediate hit after its September release, particularly in Pyongyang, where there are more mobile phones and a population that generally has more money and time to spend on leisure activities. The concert would have been the band’s first one overseas and was one of three in the Chinese capital intended to improve relations between the nations. The band is Kim’s pet project as he tries to put his own personal stamp on the North Korean arts, and the short haircuts of the group’s young women members are trend-setting in the capital Pyongyang.

The group, Moranbong Band, has about 20 members, all slim young women who wear tight dresses and high heels while performing both Western pop songs and North Korean revolutionary standards. Chinese magazine Caijing reported on its microblog that the women had left Beijing while online Chinese news portal Sohu said they had flown back to Pyongyang, the stage they were due to perform on having been dismantled.

In the game, players are prompted to go on missions to defeat the enemies of the young general Swoeme, which means “Iron Hammer,” a brave warrior-commander of the Koguryo kingdom that lasted for about 700 years and ruled most of the Korean Peninsula and the heart of Manchuria until its downfall in 668. They are a contrast to the staid image of the brand of authoritarian socialism that has existed for decades in North Korea under the rule of three generations of the same family.

China’s state-run media lit up with news reports on the group’s visit in recent days, with the official Xinhua News Agency publishing a slideshow showing the women arriving in Beijing dressed in military-style frocks and fur hats. Not long after the use of mobile phones was opened up in 2009, some handsets came pre-installed with games such as Tetris or janggi, a chess-like game that is popular across East Asia. With its state-of-the-art animation values, often beautiful artistry and entertaining characters and plot developments, the TV show has been a breath of fresh air for North Koreans, who are increasingly exposed to Chinese or South Korean entertainment. News of the band’s departure first emerged Saturday afternoon on Chinese websites, which posted photographs taken in the afternoon of the women walking through the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Around 3 p.m., employees at the Chinese Culture Ministry who had been given free tickets for the concerts were sent a WeChat message saying that the concerts had been canceled. Koguryo, which like today’s North Korea had its capital in Pyongyang, was overthrown by an alliance between the Chinese Tang Dynasty and the southern Korean kingdom of Silla. The dastardly and yet often comical villain is Hobi, a snaggle-toothed, pig-nosed Chinese spy who tried to assassinate Swoeme before he rose to the ranks as general.

Another new or perhaps updated game that came out this summer is called Tank Battle, a shoot-’em-up in which the goal is to destroy as many enemy tanks as possible. The reason for the band’s sudden departure was not clear, nor was it obvious what it meant for relations between China and North Korea, though the abrupt change in plans was almost certainly a negative development. For those of a more nurturing nature, there is a virtual pet game, which explains why from time to time faint meows can be heard near gatherings of young North Koreans. On Friday, Su Hao, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University who researches Asian politics and economics, said in an interview that “there are some issues on which the two sides still can’t get on the same page, primarily the nuclear issue and North Korea’s economic and political reforms.” “China wants North Korea to be more open,” Mr.

Though local users are unable to connect to the Internet — North Korea instead has its own domestic-use-only Intranet — they can send each other text messages, photos and, for high-end users, videos. That said, North Korea is keen to show its good will, so it’s showing its posture by sending its most important band.” Another scholar, Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor of international relations at Renmin University, said Friday that people should not read too much into Mr. Kim’s decision to send the band to Beijing. “After all, key issues such as nuclear and economic cooperation need to be worked out with leaders from the two countries sitting down together, without which all this will amount to next to nothing,” Mr.

Kim had a knack for strategy: “One moment he is sending his imperial harems and beauties to attract the attention of the Chinese people, and another moment he is announcing he has a hydrogen bomb. He is playing his boss like a monkey!” The band’s embrace of Western pop culture and the sexy attire of the members led some North Korea analysts to proclaim in 2012 that Mr.

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