Marshall McLuhan on North Korea: Girl Bands on North Korean TV



We have generally been cautious-to-skeptical about whether the change in style at the top of the North Korean leadership has any substantive significance. Recently, my colleague Marcus Noland rightly poked fun at North Korea’s Camelot moment.  But a link to a DPRK television broadcast sent to us by Georgy Toloraya is giving us pause. (For those who don’t know it, Toloraya’s Koreanology Facebook group posts regularly on North Korea with particular attention to Russian sources).

The link is to a North Korean TV broadcast of a girl group.  If ever there was a “medium and the message” moment, this is it. The “Moranbong troupe” may have recorded a soft-rock version of the national anthem (here). And this clip may be telling kids to go study.

But that ain’t the message. The question is what a 14-year old North Korean girl sees and hears. “Go study” or “rocking out in a mini-skirt and high heels is cool”? The crowd goes wild at the end of their performance. What do you think?

And then there is the sociology of it all. Any doubt that these young women are the daughters of the elite? And any doubt what their cultural sensibilities are like? Or there material sensibilities, for that matter. Georgy informs us that he was approached by agents of the group asking if he was interested in helping them arrange a foreign tour. Wasn't it Deng who said "to get rich is glamorous"? Or was it glorious?

Credit to the Shanhaiist for posting both clips.

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