A Tale of Two Ideologies: How K-Pop United Capitalism and Communism

Synths for Germany, K-Pop for Korea.

Griffin Sonnemann-Creed, Columnist

Ever since the liberation of Korea in 1945 from the Japanese, the peninsula has been split into two opposing governments, each with different politics, economics, and even cultures. The situation in Korea has remained stagnant for over half a century, but on Sunday, April 1, South Korean pop (K-Pop) artists and dancers performed in front of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea since 2011, was reportedly “moved” by the performance, according to BBC. Featuring bands and performers such as Red Velvet, one of South Korea’s most popular bands, the two hour concert was met with massive applause by many of the North Korean dignitaries present. Afterwards, Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Sol-Ju, posed next to the bands in a historic moment of acceptance by the North Korean leadership.

K-Pop has long been a deadly weapon to the Kim regime in the hands of South Korea. In 2016, after nuclear tests in North Korea were confirmed, South Korea’s military used a strategically placed system of loudspeakers to play K-Pop over the demilitarized zone, so as to both distract North Korean soldiers and to show the border populace South Korean culture. The system worked, as numerous North Korean soldiers and civilians defected from their country. In response, North Korea threatened to declare war numerous times.

However, this was not the first musical attempt at diplomacy on the peninsula practiced by South Korea. Yoon Do-Hyun, a South Korean rocker, was part of one of South Korea’s first attempts back in 2002. Speaking of his experience, he related how one of his fellow musicians, an unnamed guitarist, was almost blocked from playing due to his neon yellow hair.

In the end, it looks like East Asia’s miniature Cold War may be finally thawing for once. Earlier in 2018, after Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech, North Korea opened a direct phone line to the South Korean government; they also participated with them in a unified Korean team in the most recent Olympics. With Kim openly meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, as well as current talks about possible de-nuclearization, it may only be a matter of time before North and South Korea become one.