Sad news for Beijing fans of The Moranbong Band this past weekend, after the group cancelled all shows and abruptly returned to North Korea.
Alternatively known as Moran Hill Orchestra, the group is an all-female band handpicked by leader Kim Jong Un for the utmost in North Korean perfection.
Famous in the DPRK for such hit singles as, 'We Are the Happiest in the World' and 'We Have Nothing to Envy,' the band was expected to play three shows in the Chinese capital starting Saturday evening. These plans suddenly changed when the band left Beijing Saturday afternoon aboard a Pyongyang-bound Air Koryo jet. An additional North Korean musical troupe, the State Merited Chorus, also put the kibosh on their performances.
The invitation-only concerts were to be held at the National Theatre and were being billed as a cultural exchange, to cultivate deeper ties between the nations, according to reports.
So far no concrete information about the cancelation has been made public, but speculation is abundant; including a South Korean rumor that the married Kim was previously in a relationship with one of the band’s members. The same story was making the rounds on Chinese social media and may have led to the group returning home.
This is not the first time The Moranbong Band has found themselves in the international spotlight. Global media outlets had previously jumped on rumors that singer Hyon Song-wol, the band leader, was executed in 2013 for allegedly filming and leaking pornography. She is apparently alive and well, according to North Korean media sources.
It is unclear how the cancelation will affect already strained Sino-DPRK ties, the result of Kim’s apparent unwillingness to visit China and the rogue nation's nuclear program, but it’s reasonable to assume they will rebound as always.
With additional reporting from Kyra Louie.
[Cover image via AP]