North Korea sends message with symbolic red outfits for Olympic orchestra

Seol Song Ah  |  2018-02-09 15:37

Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong is seen (right, circled) observing the art troupe as
they board a train on their way to the Pyeongchang Olympics. Image: Choson Sinbo

North Koreas state publication Rodong Sinmun has published an image of the countrys art troupe and Samjiyon Orchestra, led by Hyon Song Wol, lining up to board a train on their way to South Korea for the Pyeongchang Olympics. The black scarves and long red coats worn by the group has invoked comparisons to attire worn by communist armies.

Key figures appearing in the photo include Chairman of the Propaganda and Agitation Department Pak Kwang Ho and Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong, who is heavily involved in state propaganda activities. "The cultural workers and central party cadres including Comrade Pak Kwang Ho and Comrade Kim Yo Jong departed from Pyongyang Station today," the article states. The deep red coats of the art troop appearing together with these particular cadres suggests that the outfits were a deliberate choice made for propaganda purposes.

In North Korea, where the "sacred bloodline of Mt. Paektu" appears heavily in propaganda, the color red symbolizes the blood of "anti-Japanese martyrs." The national, party, and military flags all feature red backgrounds, and residents are educated throughout their lives to be inspired by the "revolutionary" color and the history that it represents.

"Their intention to wage 'ideological warfare' is reflected in the appearance of the art troupe being dispatched to the enemy nation South Korea," said a former North Korean high-ranking official. "With plans to engage in talks with the South or the US over easing sanctions, they are sending a message here that they intend to maintain a dominant role in the negotiations."

Meanwhile, the Samjiyon Orchestra traveled by train from Pyongyang to the east coast city of Wonsan, where they boarded the "Mangyongbong 92" cruise ship and sailed to Mukho Port just south of Gangneung on February 6.

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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