Creativity and propaganda in North Korean music – NKNews Podcast Ep. 198

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Music is an omnipresent part of North Korean life, from the eerie electronic ballad that plays every morning in Pyongyang to the propaganda tunes sung to accordion accompaniment at schools and workplaces. For this week’s episode, Professor Keith Howard joins the NK News podcast to discuss the role of music and dance as vehicles for North Korean state propaganda, as well as to listen to and analyze compositions about the country’s leaders. Howard also traces the origins of the DPRK’s music in calisthenic exercise during the Japanese colonial era, the development of traditional Korean instruments and North Korea’s uneasy relationship with the music of other countries, especially K-pop. This week’s podcast features the following songs: “We Will Follow Only You," “Song of General Kim Il Sung” and “Mother.” Also mentioned is North Korean accordionists' cover of a-ha’s “Take on Me.” Professor Keith Howard is an ethnomusicologist, musicologist and anthropologist with regional interests primarily in Korea but also Siberia, Nepal, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe. He is a professor emeritus and former head of department in the Department of Music, School of Arts at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is the author of “Songs for ‘Great Leaders’: Ideology and Creativity in North Korean Music and Dance.” About the podcast: The North Korea News Podcast is a weekly podcast hosted by Jacco Zwetsloot exclusively for NK News, covering all things DPRK — from news to extended interviews with leading experts and analysts in the field, along with insight from our very own journalists.

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