Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment.
- Susan Sontag, "Notes on Camp"
These charming ladies, it seems, are the new fave-raves of the moment of the cognoscenti in far-off Pyongyang. Leggy, energetic (and mystifyingly, at least in part, bridal in aspect), these gals would seem to be more or less the DPRK's own answer to such phenomena as Bond or Vanessa Mae.
Here, they tackle a towering landmark in, of all things, the Hollywood theme-song canon, complete with illustrative graphics that must doubtless have puzzled a live audience, a group whom I would hazard a guess are less than totally familiar with the oeuvre of Mr. Stallone. Well, as in all things in North K., there's really only one member of the audience who matters, and it would appear that Kim Jong-un, at least, is a Rocky fan (not to mention fond of a pretty girl in a short skirt - by Pyongyang standards, those girls might as well be wearing G-strings).
Pop stardom in the Hermit Kingdom can be a perilous thing; the stakes are rather higher even than they were in the glory days of Motown. It would seem that the country's current first lady, one Ri Sol-ju, for example, is herself a former diva of light music in the Moranbong tradition. South Korean sources have recently reported that at least one and possibly several of her former colleagues/rivals (including the onetime lead thrush of my longtime number-one NK-pop phenom, the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble) recently faced the firing squad. While one can only imagine how much easier that kind of power might have made the life of Miss Ross, it still seems a sad fate for the artists behind such hits as "She is a Discharged Soldier" and "Excellent Horse-Like Lady."
Meanwhile, if you find yourself eager for more of the Moranbong magic, there are several full-length concert performances available for your listening pleasure - you can catch their New Year's gig (a special complete with gala appearance by the glamorous President and Mme. Kim), or savor the song-stylings that celebrate the anniversary this past April of the party founding (which they spend dressed kind of like the Andrews Sisters). As unlikely as it may seem right now, one thing you will quickly discover might surprise you: this little souvenir of South Philadelphia here is actually, by Moranbong standards, a remarkably restrained and straightforward - sobersided, really - arrangement. When they really get cooking, the Moranbong gals are unstoppable. Just like Rocky...