January 29, 2023

Luxury, but little sex appeal: How Kim Jong Un is transforming North Korean pop

Music professor Keith Howard’s new book digs into how North Korean songs have changed under various Kims

After dipping its toes in the glitz and glam of modern pop music, North Korea’s state music scene now appears to be returning to more conservative and toned-down values. 

But even so, Kim Jong Un has broadly changed the face and feel of North Korean music to match what we see in much of the rest of the world, according to Keith Howard, a music professor at SOAS University of London. That includes pursuing a more young, "nouveau riche" kind of feel — a seed that former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il planted at the turn of the century.