The Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble (보천보전자악단) is a North Korean band that was the countries first electronic pop group formed in 1985. While lesser known than the all Female Pop Group the Moranbong Band that took not only North Korea but the world by storm in 2012 with their stylish outfits and poppy tunes, The Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble was all the rage throughout the 1990s, and 2000’s and their songs remain incredibly popular in the North today. In fact, if you have been on tour with us to North Korea before you have defiantly heard what can be argued is North Korea’s most famous song 반갑습니다 or “Nice to meet you” which a staple in every restaurant performance and a classic of the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble.
Pochonbo Electronic Ensembles formation
Formed in 1985 under the guidance of General Kim Jong Il, who was in the midst of pushing a series of directives aimed at developing North Korea’s culture in not only music but also film and other forms of art. The name of the group comes from the “Battle of Pochonbo,” which occurred on June 4th, 1937, where a group of North Korean and Chinese guerillas lead by Kim Il Sung defeated a large Japanese Military detachment.
Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble’s Style
The group was the first major group in North Korea to emerge that took advantage of Electronic Guitars, Syththasizers and Saxophones. The result was many of the group’s songs had a faster tempo than previous North Korean songs and traces of pop influences from China, Japan and the West and became very catchy with the local populace. The group also did covers of traditional Korean songs that became massive hits such as Arirang, which the group did several versions of overtime.
Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble goes international
While not exactly a massive international tour, the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble did go on tour to Japan in the early 1990s to hold a series of performances organized by the chongryon association for ethnic and Zainichi Koreans living in Japan.
Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble today?
While overshadowed by the Moranbong Band, the Pochonbo Electronic Ensembles songs are still amongst the most popular in the country. Hyon Song Wol, a former vocalist for the group, is now the leader of the Moranbong Band and Samjiyon Orchestra and a powerful figure in North Korean politics having visited South Korea in 2018 for the winter Olympics and having accompanied Marshal Kim Jong Un several times on his trips abroad.
Want to get your hands on one of the many Ponchobo electronic ensemble CDs? Please take a look at our list of upcoming tours to North Korea. Craving more North Korean music content? Check out our Top 5 Essential DPRK bangers.