This Band Will Make History in North Korea

Slovenia's Laibach will be first foreign group to perform in Pyongyang
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2015 2:29 PM CDT
A screenshot of a Laibach music video.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – North Korea is opening its borders to the first foreign band to put on a show, and Slovenian pop group Laibach isn't exactly a predictable choice. The band, known for wearing military uniforms on stage, has a "bad boy reputation," director Morten Traavik, who's arranged several performances in North Korea, tells the BBC, adding that he's told North Korea that "it is a reputation that can very easily be" shed. Yonhap News reports the band's "visual style is suggestive of Nazi-era propaganda," but the band is simply "parodying totalitarianism," says Traavik. "Both the country and the band have been portrayed by some as fascist outcasts. The truth is that both are misunderstood."

Laibach is expected to perform its own hits, North Korean folk songs, the popular North Korean hit "We Will Go To Mount Paektu" by Moranbong, and, somewhat improbably, tunes from The Sound of Music in front of 2,000 people on Aug. 19 and 20. Traavik says North Korean authorities are relying on his authority and haven't investigated band members individually. "North Korea is, the way we see it, the utopian experiment," frontman Ivan "Jani" Novak tells the AFP. "We always felt really good in any kind of utopia."

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