North Korean Girl Band's Concerts Canceled In Beijing

Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo.
They're the hottest girl band that you've probably never heard of. With members handpicked by North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un himself, the Moranbong Band is an all-female music group that performs covers ranging from Frank Sinatra's "My Way" to the theme from Rocky, according to The Guardian. And the performers were ready to take their matching outfits and pitch-perfect voices on the road to neighboring China — until North Korea abruptly canceled the tour.

The three Beijing concerts had been advertised as a "friendship tour" between the two nations, and there hasn't been an official explanation as to why the performances were scrapped. One of the concerts was axed just three hours before it was scheduled to start, after the group had already arrived in Beijing, suggesting that relations between China and North Korea have become strained.

The Guardian
notes
that China is North Korea's only international ally, and its primary diplomatic backer, so shelving the concert series could affect the two nations' economic cooperation efforts. Experts told The Guardian that North Korea's halting the tour on such short notice could strengthen the notion of its government being "unreliable and not open to negotiation."

The Yonhap News Agency in South Korea, meanwhile, proposed that North Korea called off the Moranbong Band's concerts after China criticized Kim's suggestion that his country has a hydrogen bomb. Experts are skeptical about the claim, but the Foreign Ministry of China has stated that it wants to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.

The Moranbong Band's Beijing concerts would have been the group's first performances outside North Korea. Critics of North Korea see the band as another example of the isolated nation's attempts at soft power. The New York Times notes that Kim Jong-un hasn't visited China since he took power in 2011, following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.
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