North Korea under Kim Jong Il: The ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ of the East

As media organizations pore over the details of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s death, one element of the dictator’s personality that will not go unexplored is his relationship to the culture and art of his country. And amid the propaganda art, there’s one North Korean type of performance that seems to captivate even many people outside the country: The state-produced TV programs of children playing music.


(Screenshot, YouTube)

The children are very cute and extremely talented musicians, but their robotic stares seem to epitomize a programed population. Their dedication shows the hold that “Dear Leader” Kim had over education and culture in North Korea. See a complete collection of strange North Korean children’s music after the jump.

North Korean children playing the Kayagum, a 12-string instrument similar to a zither:

Guitar:

Drums:

Mandolin, with singing:

Flute, mandolin, and other instruments:

Boys singing and dancing:


View Photo Gallery: After years of speculation on his declining health, North Korean television has reported its leader, Kim Jong Il, has died. He was 69.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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