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Laibach Get "Standing Ovation" at Censored N Korea Concert

Pyongyang, 19 August - Despite run-ins with the censors, the Slovenian industrial rock band Laibach have managed to carry through the first of two concerts planned in North Korea to what a Slovenian reporter described as a "standing ovation".

Ljubljana
Slovenian avant-garde group Laibach.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
File photo

The local authorities pressed additional demands on what is the first ever foreign rock band to perform in the country after the final rehearsal, the web portal 24ur.com has reported.

They censored their songs "Eat Liver" and "Quran" as well as their cover of the local hit "We will go to Mount Paektu", the reason for the latter being that it did not have the right "tempo".

The censors were also bothered by some of the videos and the stage set-up, but a 24ur.com reporter nevertheless tweeted that the show was "smashing" and received "Korean style standing ovation".

One of the numbers they were allowed to perform was the traditional Korean song Arirang, but they had to do without a Korean girls choir because the censors thought it would be inappropriate for Koreans to stand behind a white man on stage.

The concerts were also moved from the originally announced venue at Pyongyang's Kim Won Gyun Music Conservatory which can set 1,000 people to the 1,500-seat Pongua theatre.

The concert was not attended by the Communist party leadership, but by foreign diplomats, including the ambassador of Cuba and even Sweden, according to 24ur.com.

Contrary to original information, Laibach were also able to play their hit "Final Countdown", but against a changed video background.

"We combined it with a science-fiction film extract of a space battle, but they do not like aggressive stuff," Laibach member Ivan Novak told a reporter of daily Delo ahead of the concert.

"Even footages from Korean films we fitted with songs as Do-Re-Mi and Edelweiss from the Sound of Music remake have been censored for childish reasons. Everything Korean is deemed holy and cannot be used in some other context."

Novak was meanwhile happy with the changed venue, which he described as brilliant for Delo, while he was less happy with a lack of technical equipment such as cables or drums.

He was impressed by the locals: "The people are unbelievable. There's not a shred of scepticism or cynicism. They are innocent, open and pure."

Before heading for North Korea, Laibach had told several media they were in favour of a reunification of North and South Korea and were not out to provoke anyone.

ep/gj
© STA, 2015