Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe

August 22, 2010, 12:00 am
Filed under: North Korea


What do ethnomusicologists and Cultural Revolutions have in common? They both hate rock and roll.

Now, I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of static for that comment. I know there are of plenty of folks working in ethnomusicology – including a few close friends – who don’t actually hate rock and roll. But a good number of those in the field are searching for music that has not been contaminated by Western influences. And on the other hand, you have Cultural Revolutions – be it political or religious – where in most cases anything remotely Western was destroyed.

Music is, and has always been, the product of cross pollination from the beginning of time – back to the beginning of civilization. The Portuguese introduced the guitar pretty much everywhere they went. The Germans unloaded a ship load of accordions into Latin America, forever changing the rhythms of their music. Brass instruments from Europe were shipped all over Africa. In more recent times, synthesizers have pretty much taken over the planet… And let’s not forget about Radio.

Once the Radio introduced, music from the around the world bled across borders to influence people who would have not normally heard that stuff to begin with. And it’s those collisions of cultures that produce some of the most amazing music – at least to my ears. Only in the most totalitarian states has Western influences been shut out. And when that happens, you get something like this.

Catalog number ㄱ – 809804 ᄆ– 28017 / ᄆ– 28018 on the Korean Gramophone Record label of Pyongyang, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. No release date listed.



The sixth party congress took place in 1980, so it was probably produced during that time. In his report to the congress, Kim Il Sung outlined a set of goals and policies for the 1980s.

There is no way of getting around “western” influence. The use of accordions and vibraphone and this typical instrumentation is lifted from Soviet music.

Comment by Leopolis

Leopolis is right, Soviet music is a big influence in DPRK, and western instruments widely used. You can buy a Yamaha drumkit in the Buksae shop in North Pyongyang. Some of the DPRK “light music” as it is called locally officially has disco or even surfy guitars influences. And I have a degree in ethnology, and have been into punk rock and many other fileds since the early 80s. This said, there is no rock music in DPRK.

Comment by Luk

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