Yough Pioneer Tours

The Moranbong Band

Did you hear that the Moranbong (sometimes misspelled as ‘Moronbong’) Band got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Well that didn’t quite happen (it was a clever April Fool’s joke), but they are by far the biggest pop group to ever come out of North Korea.

But who and what are the Moranbong Band? Let’s go on a North Korean musical odyssey!

A brief history of the Moranbong (Moronbong?) Band

Three members of the Moranbong Band in sequinned dresses during a concert.

The Moranbong Band (Korean: 모란봉악단; RR: Moranbong Akdan, lit. “Tree Peony Peak Band”), also known as the Moran Hill Orchestra, are an all-female group of musicians from North Korea.

The group have been considered (by us anyway) to be a North Korean version of K-Pop, and have even been given the unfortunate moniker of “The North Korean Spice Girls” (link for those who don’t know who the Spice Girls are). Whether any of this is true is down to interpretation, but one thing is for sure: they are certainly the most pop-like group to ever come out of the DPRK.

The formation of the Moranbong band has been put down to a number of reasons: as the influence of K-Pop, the need for the Pyongyang elites to have some pop music to dance to, or even it being the wish of Marshal Kim Jong-Un wanting to have his own influence on the music scene.

The Moranbong Band hit the scene

Five members of the Moranbong Band in white military uniforms performing on stage.

The band was introduced to the world in 2012 and has since performed in numerous concerts in North Korea and beyond. They have been known to knock out western classics such as “My Way”, but are most famous for their patriotic songs extolling the virtues of the North Korean regime, such as (our favorite) People’s Joy.

In 2015 they were due to play a historic concert in Beijing, but to “technical issues” – AKA political issues – sadly it was a non-starter.

So are the Moranbong Band NK-Pop? Well: yes and no. Few could argue that there are at least some influences from their southern neighbors. The main difference is that, unlike their Southern belle colleagues, the Moranbong Band all play their own instruments.

Watching the Moranbong Band

At some point we would love to organize a tour to watch the Moranbong Band in concert, and we are sure that one day it shall come to pass!

Regardless, on any North Korean trip you will hear their voices, because if nothing else, the North Koreans truly love listening to the Moranbong Band.

Top tip – you can watch them on YouTube. Check out our favourite song below!

Who knows — maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the girls yourself on one of our many trips to the country!

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