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My Pyongyang gig is cancelled

I’m glad I hadn’t announced it, as I’ve just discovered that my scheduled public appearance at the Rock for Peace concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, is off. Not because I’m crap, either, but because the whole concert is cancelled.

The call

It all started when I stumbled upon a website called Voice Of Korea, which was a site glorifying North Korea run by a UK-based gentleman called Jean-Baptiste Kim. There was a call for musicians to play at the Rock For Peace contest (“the 2007 version of Woodstock rock festival in 1969 but in a different location and with different goals”), so I emailed him expressing my interest, and was delighted when Mr Kim mailed back telling me “At this time, I do not see any problem on you and your members”, which is always nice to hear.

The song

There was one problem: as an ex-punk rocker, I worried that I might not have enough original material that satisfied Mr Kim’s lyrical requirements:

Lyrics should not contain admirations on war, sex, violence, murder, drug, rape, non-governmental society, imperialism, colonialism, racism, anti-DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), and anti-socialism.

A quick look on wikipedia and I discovered the text of Kim Jung Il’s speech of April 14 1965, On Socialist Construction and the South Korean Revolution in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in which the basis of the Korean philosophy of Juche was outlined. No-one could object to lyrics taken from The Great Helmsman’s speeches, so I wrote back to Mr Kim:

My band have a song called “Juche – OH YEAH!” which we feel would be great to open the concert with (or close it). The audience sings along with the chorus, which is:

For political independence:
For economic self-sustenance:
Self-defence in national defence

Would that be appropriate?

Mr Kim was gratifyingly enthusiastic, responding:

Thank you for your proposal.

“Juche ! OH YEAH!” can be the opening song of ROCK FOR PEACE and I very much appreciate it.

But I’d like to advise you that ROCK FOR PEACE should not be too political supporting DPRK politics and its system.

ROCK FOR PEACE is an international event where everybody from each different country plays about, sings about the peace without war and the humanity without imperialism or anything they wish.

I am worrying about the criticism of western countries that they might say “ROCK FOR PEACE was just a tool of propagating DPRK and it has really nothing to do with the peace in fact.

Therefore, your “juche ! OH YEAH!” will be more than great if it tells people the importance of the independence which is also important for others, not only for DPRK.

But it will be just horrible for other international people if it only propagates DPRK without giving importance on freedom in the diversity and peace in the diversity.

The Juche ideology is the philosophy of the freedom and peace in the diversity that admits every nation is different, just like every person, in their own history, traditions, and culture. The juche is, therefore, against the imperialism which forces other nations to follow the way of imperialists. The juche is not the ruling policy but is the philosophy of how to exist for a nation.

ROCK FOR PEACE will be largely participated by international medias such as BBC and AP, therefore, your “juche ! OH YEAH!” will be judged by them. You need to remember this.

I will take “juche ! OH YEAH!” as the opening song if you wisely arrange all these. Thank you.

The disappointment

My wife, Nongyow, showed me once again why she’s the best wife in the world by saying that she absolutely supported my going to North Korea, even though all we artists had to find our own airfare to Beijing.

My excitement mounted, until I logged on to Voice of Korea to see what progress was being made and read that Mr Kim was giving up organising Rock For Peace, and has given up supporting North Korea:

For last ten years, I have done my very best to serve DPRK in great passion … The current regime is not the leader of people but the royal family rules over the people. This should be converted into democratic elections and should give the freedom of speech and thought. People’s lives must be chosen by people’s favours, not by the dictatorial system … I regret my life with DPRK government for last 10 years but will not repeat the same mistake again in future … I also need to announce that ROCK FOR PEACE will be suspended along with myself.

I’m glad that Mr Kim has renounced being an apologist for the horrifying regime in North Korea, but confess to being disappointed; singing Juche! OH YEAH! at the opening of the first rock concert in North Korea would have been something to tell the grandchildren.

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4 Responses to “ My Pyongyang gig is cancelled ”

Comment by cole

Tis a mighty shame. Can envisage a set of rip roaring Commy Covers:
I’m loving Engels instead
It’s my Party (and I’ll cry if I want to)
(I did it) Mao Way
Historical Material Girl

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