If you stumbled across this site with no knowledge of North Korea or its music, you might be wondering why bother to listen to it? Isn’t North Korea bad? Is the music even good? Is it ethical to listen to it? Keep reading to find out my answers to those questions.
I discovered the DPRK (official name for North Korea) music scene in April of 2020. You can read more about that here, but what started as a simple curiosity quickly morphed into a genuine interest.
Now as for the questions about North Korea being “bad” or the question of ethics, that’s a bit complicated. Discussing politics is somewhat inevitable with a site like this but the main focus of this site will not be my take on North Korean politics. Appreciating this music does not mean you support North Korea or agree with them politically. I do think that as you listen to their music your view on their country will become much more nuanced and you might empathize with them somewhat. There’s so much more to their culture and history than what any Western media outlet will teach you and I believe it is worth looking into for that reason alone. As for whether or not it is “ethical,” I believe it is. All of the music is available for free online and I don’t believe the North Korean government makes much, if any, money off of it.
Many DPRK music fans focus solely on the music and don’t get too invested in the history or culture. It is entirely possible to simply appreciate the music for what it is and not pay attention to the lyrics. There are probably artists you listen to regularly that you don’t completely agree with, or song lyrics in a song that don’t resonate with you, but you enjoy the sound of the music. The same can be applied here. DPRK music is unique in many ways so give different songs a listen and see if any of it is to your liking. I've made a starter playlist that has several songs from one of the more popular DPRK music groups called the Moranbong Band. Click here to listen to it.