Slovenian band Laibach become first Western group to play gig in North Korea – watch

Laibach covered songs from 'The Sound Of Music' in Pyongyang on Wednesday (August 19)

Slovenian avant-garde group Laibach played a gig in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Wednesday (August 19), becoming the first foreign group to ever perform in the country.

The Asian country – officially named the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – are notoriously averse to outside influence, previously banning their citizens from owning or listening to any foreign music.

The group appeared at the 1,500-capacity Ponghwa arts theatre, performing a 45-minute set in total, which included a well-known Korean folk song and covers of songs from musical The Sound Of Music. Watch footage below.

The audience reportedly consisted of local residents, diplomats, tourists and political figures. The organiser behind the diplomatic trip, Simon Cockerell of Beijing’s Koryo Tours, who told Agence France-Presse about the crowd’s reaction, saying: “They seemed to really enjoy it. It wasn’t an audience pulling faces of distrust or confusion.”

“Everyone sat in their seats the whole time and there wasn’t really any clapping along or singing along, but then that’s the norm at concerts here anyway,” added Cockerell.

“I imagine most of the people there really had no idea what to expect, but the whole show seemed to be well received.”


Pyongyang’s official news agency wrote of the performance: “Performers showed well the artistic skill of the band through peculiar singing, rich voice and skilled rendition.”

Laibach formed in 1980 in Trbovlje, then part of the former Yugoslavia. They are known for their use of political and nationalist imagery, which some have seen as parody and others have deemed glamourisation.

In July it was reported that officials in North Korea were going house-to-house, searching for banned music.

Online news source Daily NK reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered members of his Inminban neighbourhood units to search local homes in their area.

It was also reported that the Korean Workers’ Party Propaganda and Agitation Department have added to their list of banned music.