After announcing that an elite cheerleading group called the “army of beauties” would be sent to the Winter Olympics, North Korea appears to be adding a new element to the nuclear nation’s cultural show of force with the probable appearance of leader Kim Jong-Un’s handpicked band.
The Moranbong Band is a group of North Korean dancers and musicians in the K-Pop (Korean pop) style, an energetic and genre-blending type of music popular across the world.
Last week, Moranbong Band member Hyon Song Wol joined diplomats as part of the North Korean delegation in attendance at talks between the Koreas, reports CNN. The band was formed — or demanded — in 2012 by Kim Jong-un himself, per CNN, who said at the time that he “organized the Moranbong band as required by the new century, prompted by a grandiose plan to bring about a dramatic turn in the field of literature and arts.”
They perform songs that lavish approval and praise on Kim, with lyrics that talk about the dictator’s “sweet smile” and “warm heart.” In recent years, the band has adopted some of the stylings of their southern neighbor, occasionally outfitting Moranbong Band members in tighter, shorter dresses than the military dress they typically sport, reports K-Pop site Koreaboo.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in Pyeongchang starting on Feb. 9 and continue until the 25th. American United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley has said that the ongoing North Korean nuclear threat leaves it “an open question” as to whether American athletes will attend.
It wouldn’t be the first time the North Korean band was booked for the Olympics — they were scheduled to sing at the Beijing Olympics — but it would be the first time they actually performed. The Beijing appearance was cancelled before the band could play.