North Korean Songs Coming Into Vogue

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North Korean Songs Coming Into Vogue

The song “Nice to Meet You,” a North Korean song done at the beginning and end of nearly all ceremonies held in North Korea, is also becoming popular here in the South.

This song became known to South Koreans about a year ago when South Korean tourists first started being allowed to visit Mt.Kumgang in North Korea.

In December 1999, a South Korean singer, who had participated in the peace concert in Pyongyang, upon returning to Seoul, sang the song on national television imitating the piercing tones of North Korean singers, and thereby spreading the song's popularity.

North Korean troupes performing here have, in particular, made this song a standard in their repetoire.

One female singer even made her singing debut with an album including seven North Korean songs.

But, the true sign that North Korean songs are in vogue is when cellular phones use the tunes as their bell melodies. Kim Jae-min of a telecommunications company, which started making the melody available last month to their mobile service subscribers, said that the song “Nice to Meet You” is downloaded about 1,200 times everyday by people wanting the tune on their phones instead of the regular ringer tone.

“Whistle,” a North Korean song made popular by North Korean actress Chon Hye-young in the early 1990s, is also quickly gaining popularity among the mobile phone-carrying populace. Unlike other songs with heavy North Korean 'rhetoric', “Whistle” expresses the sentiments of young love, and with its cheerful melody and funny words, had acquired a certain cachet with university students in the early 1990s.

One university student stated that songs like “Nice to Meet You” and “Whistle” add to the fun when meeting friends. On their growing popularity, she said that, “you can easily spot students gathered in groups trying to learn North Korean songs.”

Professor Min Kyung-chan of the Korean National University of Arts remarked, “North Korean songs seem to be becoming popular due to the fact that the public are extremely interested and also the lyrics are easy to follow.”

by Lee Ga-young

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