Members of the North Korean female music group Moranbong Band arrive at a hotel after concert rehearsal on December 11, 2015 in Beijing, China.
Photography by ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
By Valentina Zarya
December 11, 2015

What do you get when you combine South Korea’s pop music with North Korean totalitarian dictatorship? The Moranbong Band, a pop group with striking similarities to a military orchestra (think: absolute structure, harmony, and national anthems).

North Korea’s version of the Spice Girls is a collective of about two dozen female musicians, each of whom wear identical Soviet-style uniforms during performances. Seeing them them on stage is like going back in time to the 80s: a time of bad hair, lots of synth, and, well, communism. Song titles include: “My Country is the Best!”, “Let’s Support Our Supreme Commander in Arms”, and “Do Prosper, Era of the Workers’ Party.”

According to the New York Times, Moranbong is a favorite of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, and each member is rumored to have been handpicked by him. Now, the band is off to Beijing for a weekend of “friendship performances” meant to improve North Korea’s relations with China.

The Times reports that Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said about the visit: “The good-will visit and performance of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea art groups in China are not within the remit of the Foreign Ministry.” However, she noted that “state-to-state exchanges and cooperation in various forms will help increase mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples.”

See one of the band’s performances below:


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