Rocking Pyongyang: Film recalls Laibach’s North Korea gig

(CNN)Growling “Sound of Music” covers while decked out in military uniforms, Laibach was one of the first Western bands to perform in North Korea.

It was an ironic juxtaposition, a politically provocative band performing to an audience of 1,500 in a closed communist society.
“One goal was simply to see if it could be done,” said Morten Traavik, the director of a new documentary about the 2015 concert.
    The Slovenian industrial rock band is well known for inciting controversy, with rally-like concerts, even projecting porn clips over old propaganda video. Their name is taken from the German name of the Slovenian capital under Nazi occupation.
    It was Laibach’s first and only trip to North Korea. They toured around the country and band member Ivan Novak said he saw “poverty and elegance,” but none of the “cynicism, negativism” and “pornography” he sees in the West.
    “When you are there, you really feel like you are in the Truman show,” Novak said. “It is a kind of existing utopia that it looks likes it is functioning.”
    Novak hasn’t been back since, but director Traavik has traveled to North Korea more than 20 times, directing other art projects like students in an accordion version of A-ha’s “Take on Me,” a Norwegian festival and a DMZ academy, bringing European artists into North Korea for a symposium.
    He also has a very different take on North Korea, describing it as a “third world country posing as a super power.”
    “This country cannot be a threat to anybody but itself,” he said.

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    Author: Billy Roland

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