Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

A lot of people seem to be interested in North Korean cultural diplomacy these days, so the (often peer-reviewed/probably badly flawed/usually enormously fun) work which I have been doing on this issue for the last decade has allowed me to say a few not completely ignorant things about it for a wider public. [Updated 6 April 2018:] This morning I spoke about it with Canada’s … Continue reading Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

Researching the Moranbong Band: An Abstract

Even before Kim Jong-il’s tremulously-announced death in Dec. 2011, the North Korean musical-cultural apparatus-elite-complex was in valedictory mode, producing huge orchestral canatas that expressed a perfect –and complete– vision of the Dear Leader’s full contribution to the ongoing North Korean revolution. Had Kim Jong-un chosen to take up only these modes of cultural commemoration, they were clearly within his grasp. Instead, months after his father’s … Continue reading Researching the Moranbong Band: An Abstract

Blockages and Breakthroughts: Cultural Diplomacy and North Korea

[A cross-post of an essay which I posted on SinoNK.com. — AC] Yesterday, Corée_Actualités launched a short missive which functioned as a kind of bouleversement of the normal: a 90-member delegation of the DPRK’s Unhasu Orchestra (consisting of 70 players) will be performing at the Salle Pleyel in Paris this coming March 21.  The French Radio Symphony Orchestra (l’Orchestre de Radio France) will be playing alongside Unhasu, under the direction … Continue reading Blockages and Breakthroughts: Cultural Diplomacy and North Korea

Edward Said as Prose Stylist

I recently was confronted with the absolute revelation of the parallel career of Edward Said, comparative literature professor at New York University and famous analyst of the Arab world, as nothing other than a music critic and musicologist. His Music at the Limits: Three Decades of Essays and Articles on Music includes an introduction by Daniel Barenboim, but it is Said’s writing and grasp of … Continue reading Edward Said as Prose Stylist

Melodious Plateau: Politics and Song at Losar (The Tibetan New Year)

[This is a guest post by Kristiana Henderson of Pacific Lutheran University, based upon research begun in Tibet in October 2010 and continued for the duration of that fall in Chengdu and western Sichuan province, PRC.  Henderson uses some Tibetan characters in the post which, depending on your font sympathies and access, may not display in their entirety — a fitting enough irony considering the … Continue reading Melodious Plateau: Politics and Song at Losar (The Tibetan New Year)

‘Succession is the Issue’: Rap Ditty on the Kim Clan and Sino-North Korean Relations

If you want footnotes or typed lyrics, then they shall be produced.  Otherwise, enjoy this little ditty, which began in the pre-dawn with a civilized train ride and a consequent eyeful of Mount Ranier red sunrise over frozen fields (the peak appearing to erupt in slow motion), and ended twenty minutes later in a gust on top of a garbage can. A model for future … Continue reading ‘Succession is the Issue’: Rap Ditty on the Kim Clan and Sino-North Korean Relations