They’re the favorite band of North Korea’s supreme leader and they may be headed to the 2018 Winter Olympics. They’re Moranbong so get all the details!
1. No wonder they’re Kim Jong-un’s favorite – he started them! Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, North Korea agreed to send a 140-member orchestra troupe, along with its athletic delegation, to the games. During the talks between these two countries, eagle-eyed watchers recognized Hyon Song-wol among the diplomats, per CNN. Her involvement led many to wonder if Moranbong would accompany the orchestra, as Hyon Song-wol performed with the all-female group in 2015. The group was formed by North Korea supreme leader Kim Jon-un, 34, in 2012, as part of a “grandiose” cultural modernization effort, per Time.
2. They’re like Menudo…sorta. Known for military uniform-style costumes (more on that later) exquisite stage shows and pro-North Korean/Kim Jong-un lyrics, Moranbong (also known as The Moranbong Band or the Moran Hill Orchestra) are like what you’d get if you crossed Fifth Harmony with the string-section of your college music program. As for the actual members, it’s hard to figure that out. There could be 10 members, there could be 20 – it’s understood that there’s a high turnover, according to North Korea watchers Sino-NK.
3. Some thought they had “broken up” following a canceled tour. Moranbang usually performs at high-profile event sin North Korea. The troupe was supposed to go on its first international tour, a three-concert visit in Beijing in December 2015, but it was canceled. The reasons have ranged from the Chinese government objecting to the pro-Kim lyrics in the songs, to some suggesting that the concert was too close to the death anniversary of Kim Jong-il. There were rumors, according to the Washington Post, that one of the women tried to defect. Yet, the girls returned on the anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s birth and in celebration of the county’s latest rocket launch.
4. They do covers, but it’s their originals that have Olympics officials worried. During a 2012 concert, Moranbong busted out a cover of the theme to Rocky, “It’s A Small World (After All)” and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” If they play those songs during their hypothetical Olympic concert, that may not be so bad. Yet, it’s those pro-North Korea compositions that have some people seeing red.
“If the Moranbong Band members, who are all formally military officers, come to the South in military uniforms, it could cause discomfort among many South Koreans,” Cheong Seong-chang, an analysis at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said to The Guardian. “And it would stir an even bigger controversy if any praise of Kim Jong-un or missile launches are featured on the stage during their performance.”
5. Seriously. They love Kim Jon-un. Remember the USA Freedom Kids, that trio of young girls who did that creepy pro-Donald Trump song in January 2016? Moranbong got them beat. “How can he be so kind,” goes one song about the Supreme Leader. “I have no choice but to be taken by him and his warm heart.” They also have songs called “We Love The Party Flag,” and “Advance of Socialism.” Sadly, none of them are on Spotify. Sad.
Do you think the Olympics should let Moranbong perform, HollywoodLifers?