Go to contents

THE DONG-A ILBO Logo

S.Korean pop music and dance sweeping N.Korea: report

Posted August. 16, 2011 23:56,   

Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00

한국어

South Korean pop music, or K-pop, has reportedly started to gain popularity in North Korea.

Despite a stern crackdown by the North’s security authorities, many people in the North led by the children of high-income families are learning the latest South Korean folk songs and dance, news reports say.

Introducing this trend, the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said Tuesday, “Names of South Korean dance groups, such as Girls’ Generation’ and Big Bang are no longer unheard of in North Korea.”

A Chinese trader who frequently visits North Korea told the broadcaster, “South Korean dance fever is sweeping young people in Pyongyang,” adding, “A homemaker of a well-heeled family asked me to get a Girls’ Generation CD to her recently.”

The Radio Free Asia report said dance is so popular among children of the North`s rich and powerful in their teens and 20s living around Pyongyang’s Junggu or Daedong River districts. Rumors also suggest that “those who cannot dance disco cannot play with other children.”

Private lessons for dance have gotten popular, and tutors even teach dance and singing at homes and exercise rooms for 20 U.S. dollars per month.

The trader said, “These days, homemakers of rich households don`t tell their children to learn the accordion or another instrument, and are more interested in teaching modern dance entailing both dance and singing.”

The children of senior North Korean officials who attend prestigious schools such as Kim Il Sung University and Pyongyang Commercial University are enjoying South Korean and Western music by dodging the relatively loose crackdown on them, he said.

"Hallyu," or the Korean Wave of South Korean pop culture, has been repeatedly confirmed by North Korean defectors. With more South Korean dramas and music CDs flowing into the North via the North Korea-China border, chances are high that famous South Korean singers, including girl groups, will enjoy increased visibility, experts say.

An official at Hanawon, a state-run training center assisting North Korean defectors to settle in the South, said, “Many North Korean students really like South Korean songs and dance, and they easily follow South Korea’s singing and dancing,” adding, “Dance performances staged in the trainees’ completion ceremony at Hanawon is just as impressive as performances by South Korean singers or students."

North Korean authorities are stepping up their crackdown on hallyu, with one saying, “The inflow of external trends, including the Korean Wave, should be blocked.”

Pyongyang apparently believes that external winds of this nature could pose a stumbling block to consolidating the structure of power succession for heir apparent Kim Jong Un.

In a visit to Shinuiju early last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly criticized his country`s fashion and social disorder by saying, “North Pyongan Province has become a dance hall of capitalism.” He then ordered a stronger crackdown.



lightee@donga.com