With its extreme isolation and boldly assertive propaganda, North Korea is one of the easiest targets for ridicule. And we just can't help mocking this: not every dictator gets even one theme song, but North Korean leader Kim Jong-un now has two. 'Onwards Toward The Final Victory', released last Tuesday, is the first publicly promoted propaganda song about Kim since the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, last December. It follows 'Footsteps', a song released in 2009 in honour of the then-heir apparent.
'Onwards Toward The Final Victory' also apparently has an associated official video. According to Yonhap News Agency, the video plays regularly on North Korea's state-run media, the Korean Central Broadcasting Station. The vid features some bizarre juxtapositions: the upbeat, stage-musical-style instrumentation plays against images of military marches and missiles firing, as well as molten lava, while the lyrics (as translated by Asia Society) talk about "our undefeated army ... winning a hundred battles" and "exploding the mental strength of the united heart of our million citizens". Check it out below:
Kim Jong-un is not the first ruler of the country to get his own signature leader's anthem: his father Kim Jong-il also had a tune, the less-creatively titled 'Song of General Kim Jong-il'. Check that out below (but note that this one is definitely not a state-sanctioned video):
According to Shuan Sim of Asia Society, 'Onward Toward The Final Victory' is part of an attempt to brand Kim Jong-un as "a benevolent, fatherly figure, a stark departure from his father's strong but cold rule". Sim also points out that Kim Jong-un is seemingly a different leader from his father in other ways: he has "reportedly relaxed rules on the consumption of Western products like pizzas, hamburgers and French fries".
As far as what the "final victory" of the title refers to, Professor John Delury of Yonsei University in Seoul says "I assume the final victory refers to reunification of the Korean Peninsula". Not sure the song is catchy enough to make that happen.
All jokes aside, the reality of alleged human rights abuses in North Korea is very serious. According to Amnesty International, North Koreans who are sent to prison camps "are punished if suspected of lying, not working fast enough or forgetting the words of patriotic songs", so songs like 'Onwards Toward The Final Victory' can have a terrible effect on real people's lives.
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