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Laibach Gearing Up for North Korea Tour

Ljubljana, 24 July - Laibach, Slovenia's internationally-acclaimed musical group, are gearing up for the 19 and 20 August concerts in North Korea, where they say they will call for Korean reunification.

Trbovlje
A Laibach concert.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

"The Korean people and the Korean peninsula have been violently and dramatically divided, so their legitimate aspirations for reunification must be supported," Laibach said in an interview with the STA.

The person who has helped arrange for Laibach to become the first foreign musical group to play in North Korea is Norwegian cultural activist Morten Traavik, who has also directed the video for Laibach's recent hit "The Whistleblowers".

Traavik has already carried out artistic projects in North Korea and has ties with the country's authorities.

After he suggested Laibach should visit the country, the band received an official invitation, to which they "politely responded". The invitation said the programme should be adjusted to the audience.

Laibach will therefore perform some of their best known songs, adaptations of some of the famous songs from The Sound of Music musical as well as interpretations of selected Korean songs and anthems.

The band will sing in English and Korean. "The Sound of Music is well-known to Koreans, as many learned English by watching it," Laibach members explained.

The band will also call for the reunification of North and South Korea, which were divided during the Cold War.

"North Korea being held hostage by the Truman Doctrine, a united country is definitely not in the interest of the big powers, the US and China.

"North Korea suits the US, because its regime justifies the presence of US troops in the region, while to China it serves as a cushion against South Korea," the band believes.

Laibach's concerts in the capital of Pyongyang will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Korean peninsula from Japanese rule and subsequent division into rival states.

The band is hoping for a positive experience. Their only wish is that the audience does not perceive them as a "rock or alt-rock band".

Laibach do not know whether Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been notified of their visit, but they told the STA their performances - which can be perceived as provocations - were not intended as provocation of the Koreans but rather of "those outside the country".

While they will appear on stage wearing Korean civilian clothes, the band highlighted they had never used national images or metaphors but always international symbols, deeply rooted in all nations, including those that consider themselves to be modern.

"People are people and North Korea is no exception," Laibach answered to the question about any special preparations for the two concerts.

Traavik has recently said that North Korea and Laibach are similar in that they are misunderstood. Laibach agree with this to some extent, but add that any interpretation of the band is valid, while this can hardly apply to the country.

mab/av/gj
© STA, 2015