North Korea’s Guitar Army

by guitarkadia on May 10, 2010

in Blog

We’ve all ooh’d and aah’d over Sungha Jung’s mighty fingers, but this set of videos of North Korean children playing the guitar (hat tip to Pauline, who tweeted about them first) flips the cuteness over and makes you wonder if there’s a term ‘forced child prodigy’. Something about the picture feels a bit weird to me.

Perhaps you can tell me, whoever and wherever you are, if these videos strike a bit odd to you. Take a poll at the end of the videos and let me have it.

Putting all the political crap aside, what happens to these kids? They’re way too young to understand guitar playing as a career and they probably will never play outside of North Korea. I’ve seen a lot of kids playing an instrument solo, but rarely in an ensemble setting. That is impressive, son! And it would be a damn shame if these tiny bundles of talent never have a career a lot of hacks enjoy around the world! There, I said. (take the darn poll at the end).

[poll id=”3″]

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee May 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I think they’re cute… but in the mean time, there’s something weird about it too. They don’t look very natural.. their smiles are kind of fake.. like they were taught to maintain a certain look while they play. I’m not sure really.

HDWells April 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

How Could They Do That?!
This is Awesome!

CharlieSheenWINNING! April 8, 2011 at 5:43 am

I recently got a link to the ensamble of (I’m sorry to say, be clearly manufactured kids) playing guitar, and I think it’s kind of disgusting. Imo, they have been forced into this kind of playing from a young age. I could be wrong, maybe the kids actually enjoy being bossed around, it’s their culture, but no kid would EVER sit still that long to learn to play an instrument with that skill without some serious discipline being condoned upon them… THAT’s what leads me to the conclusion that these kids have been treated unfairly, potentially even harmfully. Nope, I don’t like it…

Ivy May 10, 2011 at 8:47 am

This is an art, not Kim Kardashian’s ass

sandra December 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Child performers in the U.S. and around the world experience the same regimentation, . . . and a certain amount of joy. It’s joy in their faces, in the movement of their little shoulders to the beat, in the smile when they’ve successfully gotten through a difficult chord, that I see. They clearly enjoy the music, especially the girl second from left in the first video and certainly the girl in the second video.

Lindsey Montana August 31, 2012 at 7:12 am

What, are you crazy? Sounds like sour grapes to me. Some kids worked hard at something and do an excellent, (and sophisticated) job at it, and you find it weird? These kids will grow up capable of great things. Like Sandra said, this kind of ethic is normal stuff for many families — families who understand life can be more than working all week to drink beer on the weekends.

emon August 31, 2012 at 8:59 am

No sour grapes, I assure you Lindsey. I agree with you and Sandra that child performers everywhere go through the same regimentation, whether in gymnastics or soccer or guitar, and they grow up to do great things. But I think you’re missing the point of my post.

Yes, I agree that these kids are capable of great things. All kids are. But these kids don’t live in a free country where they might have a full career as musicians. I don’t absolutely know that for sure. They’re performing on government television where everything shown used to be for the pleasure of one person, Kim Jong Il.

I only wondered if these young performers would ever get to grow up to have a career as musicians and enjoy what most musicians enjoy when they’re talented and not just be forced to perform on television because the dictator finds it entertaining. We’re talking government sponsored television here. If kids you knew were made to get up 5 in the morning to perform on television just for the pleasure of one dictator few would find that to be cute.

That doesn’t take away the fact that the kids are talented. Just putting it in context to what regime they live in. It’s not an easy discussion to have since I’ve never been to North Korea. But what I gather from how things work over there, I wondered.

Thank you for visiting and leaving your thoughts. I appreciate your taking the time.

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