Between slowly starving to death and dodging the DVD copies of The Interview we assume are constantly falling from the sky, being North Korean sounds stressful. And when everything on TV has to be approved by a state-run propaganda agency (Game Of Thrones probably doesn’t make the cut), even unwinding in front of the tube at the end of a long day loses its charm. No, what North Korea needs is an old-fashioned summer music festival.
That’s…kind of what’s happening in Pyongyang next month, when Slovenian industrial veterans Laibach take the stage for two shows, each of which is expected to draw 2,000 people. The band, which will perform a mix of its own hits and North Korean folk songs—and, um, songs from The Sound Of Music—will be the first foreign rock act to perform in the country. As far as Eastern European pop groups with a history of inciting controversy by flirting with fascist imagery go, Laibach is the logical choice; Morten Traavik, the band’s musical director, is an official cultural liaison to North Korea.
Traavik, who also once organized something called the Miss Landmine Pageant, says that Laibach and North Korea have a lot in common. “Both the country and the band have been portrayed by some as fascist outcasts. The truth is that both are misunderstood,” he tells the BBC, adding, “I have informed the North Korean authorities of [the band’s] bad-boy reputation and reassured them that it is a reputation that can very easily be disproved of.” Although, considering the Dear Leader’s friendship with Dennis Rodman, maybe the “bad boy” thing would be an asset.