North Korean pop band to play in Beijing - but tickets are not available to the public

Kim Jong Un (centre), accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, enjoying a performance.
Kim Jong Un (centre), accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, enjoying a performance.PHOTO: AFP/KCNA VIA KNS

BEIJING (AFP) - North Korea's premier pop group, the all-girl Moranbong band formed by leader Kim Jong Un, will electrify audiences in China in shows aimed at harmonising out-of-tune ties between the traditional allies, reports and the venue said on Wednesday (Dec 9) - but tickets are not available to the public.

The band have shaken up the reclusive country's generally staid music scene with renditions of patriotic songs, along with Western hits such as My Way and the theme from Rocky performed on electric violins.

Inside North Korea, they have been accorded huge success and students can reportedly sing their repertoire at the drop of a hat.

They will bring their tightly choreographed routines to Beijing for three days of shows, China's official Xinhua news agency said.

The concerts are "friendship performances" North Korea's state-run KCNA agency reported, praising the "worldwide stylish band" as "the first standard-bearer on the ideological and cultural front".

China has traditionally been North Korea's sole regional ally and main provider of trade and aid, but ties have become strained in recent years as Pyongyang has pressed ahead with internationally condemned nuclear tests.

Kim himself has yet to visit Beijing, three years after inheriting power following the death of his father Kim Jong Il.

The Moranbong band first performed in 2012 and its members are reportedly hand picked by Kim, an authoritarian leader who is often praised in its songs.

The group, set to perform at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, "opened up a new path in art creation with the spirit of devotedly carrying out the tasks given by the Party", KCNA added.

A woman who answered the phone at the venue confirmed the performances to AFP, but said they "will not be open to the public".