Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Shinhwa in North Korea

While searching for North Korean videos on youtube.com, I came across the video below of South Korean pop group Shinwha performing in North Korea. The emotionless reaction of the North Korean audience is priceless, quite different from the reception Shinwha is probably used to in South Korea. I would not be surprised if the audience members were given specific instructions prior to the performance. Another factor to consider is that probably the invited guests were the privileged few, high ranking governments officials, hence not a true representation of North Korea. The broader questions is, can sixty years of division create this much cultural difference? As far as pop culture is concerned, two certainly distinct cultures seem to have emerged. As seen in the video, Korean pop music today draws heavy influences from the United States (the dance, beat, and even rap). I am curious as to what really went through the minds of the North Korean audience when they heard this 'foreign' music? I can think of two possible thoughts: 1) 'Wow, the music is so exciting, a breath of fresh air compared to the dull limited North Korean music.' 2)'South Korea culturally, has completely been swept away by the American imperialists. We the north Koreans are now the only remaining pure Koreans, true preservers of the Korean culture.' Did you notice the hanbok(Korean traditional outfit) worn by all the women in the audience? It certainly does not seem to be a coincidence.
Given the upbringing of the North Koreans today, my instincts tell me that the N Koreans would side with the latter view.
Enjoy the video, and do post your reactions!

Enjoy the video, and do post your reactions!

19 comments:

patrick said...

As much as I dislike Shin Hwa and all other K-pop, I feel bad for them having to perform in front of such an unresponsive and unappreciative audience. That is not a gig I would want.

I must admit that part of me was thinking, "Man, those Norks are right... Shin Hwa sucks. Why should anyone have to listen to that crap?"

What was the purpose of Shin Hwa playing there? Who knows who they even are?

kat said...

I don't believe that the North Korean audience was thinking about American imperialism and culture taking over South Korea after seeing the Shin Hwa concert. How would they know that the group is influenced by American music? Being so isolated in North Korea I doubt they have any idea of modern fashion and style in music or anything else. They were probably just stunned!

Preetam Rai said...

North Koreans would certainly be aware of South Korean pop-culture. There must be VCDs trickeling in from China. Shinwa and other S. Korean bands are popular in China and more so in the Korean regions of China close to N. Korean border. I think the audience just couldn't figure out how to react.

Dave Stira said...

Austin noted the traditional garb of the female North Korean audience members, but it is interesting to see that all the male North Koreans are still dressed in Western-style suits. No military uniforms or anything. Just something I noted.

tkpark said...

This makes me note that both Koreas are going into separate ways so much, although as was noted before, we do not have information whether they were told not to clap or sing along (though they would have not known the songs...). Moreover, the fact that the men are wearing suits makes me think that yes, North Korea is trying to preserve the 'true' Korean culture, but still, it is important that the rest of the world respect them as well (it also reminded me of the picture shown in class with the 'forward-looking' Japanese statemen and the 'backwards' Chinese)

mattsid said...

There was a link to this on koreabridge.com forums and a user there was clever to spot what appears to be a very distinguished guest dancer.

If you pause the video at 3:06 - 3:07 you will see what I am talking about. Hilarious.

Fernando said...

What an interesting video to see! How stiff the North Koreans are sitting down in their suits and hanboks. It is very different in the South, the presence of males in a ShinHwa concert is nil. I would say that most of the audience are middle school girls in their uniforms taking videos on their cell phones, screaming "I love you _____ (fill in the name of a ShinHwa member here), and passing out.

Anonymous said...

It must be so foreign to them. They are use to seeing perfectly moneuvered stunts and choreography. A song not sung about Kim Ill?- how postposterous!;)

I want to know what Shinwa thought of their performance. They pulled it off well.

Anonymous said...

i love shinhwa. so yes im biased. n no, im not a teenager.

yes, they lip-synched. but everyone does when they are doing fast numbers like that. and i believe the atmosphere has something to do with the lack of showmanship.

north korea is weird. watching the performance 4 the upteenth time still freaks me out.

Anonymous said...

i guess they were too shock to say anything. it was too good for them. =)

their attitudes are so childish. they all look like some short of statues.

Anonymous said...

i think they were too shock to say anything. it was too good for them. =)

their attitude was rude, just like their leader. they all looked like statues...old statues.

Anonymous said...

Fernando,the majority of Shinhwa fans are in their 20's,for your information.And Patrick,how do Shinhwa suck?They are 6 talented, beautiful people.And they were there to celebrate the opening of Jung Joo-Yung Memorial auditorium. Geez.Stop being harsh on Shinhwa oppas!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Love the girls at 1:06. You can so tell they're into it! XD The one girl leans forward to get a better look all tentatively! Heehee! That's fifty years worth of pent up Asian fangirlism right there! lol!

Jakub said...

Wow, there are some arrogant idiots, here, you think North Koreans REALLY have no clue about what's going on in the South? Not to mention its elites who actually DO have access to the internet and also foreign media, many North Koreans actually go to China for shopping, etc. You guys need to grow up from your Western narrow-mindedness.

Lorraine said...

Shinhwa, true talented artists all. They did extremely well under all this pressure and coldness. Their performance was no less than perfect!

Anonymous said...

The men in the audience looked sedate, the younger women looked visibly disturbed. I imagine it was sexual tension, frustration, for the most part. It's a shame the real North Koreans could not see the concert. It looked like it was shown exclusively to party dignitaries only.

John said...

keep in mind too that this dancing is very loose and scattered... it's choreographed to simulate improvisation, coordinated chaos if you will. How much of that kind of dancing do you think North Koreans have seen? They might have thought Shinhwa were just bad dancers. There are types of dancing and singing which exist that do sound like crap to people who are being exposed to it for the first time... but for the record, shinhwa is bullshit

Anonymous said...

anybody sees the disgusted look on one lady in 3:10??

that's priceless! HAHAHAHA

Filip said...

@Jakub
I have a clue what's going on there! Do you know that Chinese pay 200 yuan for each refugee from North Korea turned in?
Do you know how dangerous is crossing the river to China for North Koreans? It is like a russian roulette for us; also, when they go abroad they have to leave their family (a family is then in danger in North Korea, because it inherits the guilt of the refugee). They don't know Chinese!
That's what I know; I would be happy if you tell me what I have mistaken.