Laibach Lines-Up Concerts in North Korea

Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images
Laibach performs live in Trbovlje on July 4, 2015.   

Slovenian industrial electro-rock act Laibach is taking the road less traveled…to North Korea. 

According to the BBC, the act is booked to play two shows in the capital Pyongyang this August for an audience of 2,000. 

The decision to visit and perform in the secretive communist country should add to the controversy which dogs the veteran band. They’ve been blasted from some quarters for their ambiguous use of nationalist imagery, and they’ve been pegged as being either supportive of the extreme left or right. The band members deny it and supporters say their predilection for wearing military uniforms on stage is just an intelligent play on totalitarianism and European democracy.

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The Corporation quotes music director Morten Traavik, who says the band will tone down their onstage antics for North Korean audiences and the band's playlist will be anything but incendiary. Apparently, Laibach will perform songs from The Sound of Music and they’ll cover “We Will Go To Mount Paektu,” a song from the local all-girl group Moranbong Band.

Traavik is said to have organized various musical and cultural performances in the Republic in the past. "I have informed the North Korean authorities of their bad boy reputation and reassured them that it is a reputation that can very easily be disproved of,” he is quoted as saying. 

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"If they were really fascist, why would Poland's cultural ministry recently have asked them to reinterpret partisan songs in Warsaw to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the uprising against the Nazis in the city?”

Western acts rarely venture inside North Korea. Retired basketball great Dennis Rodman -- another performer with a “bad boy” reputation -- has made the trip on multiple occasions with a collection of ex-NBA ballers for his so-called “basketball diplomacy” visits. On each occasion, he’s been widely condemned in the U.S. for heaping praise on the DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un.  

"Both the country and the band have been portrayed by some as fascist outcasts,” adds Traavik. “The truth is that both are misunderstood.”