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Let’s Get Weird—All World All Time Best Song Competition: North Korea

Boy, that’s a lot of unmarked white vans outside!

Yeah man, I dunno either.

Feel free to click on the first Global Song Competition post in which we determined “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” was Australia’s best ever contribution to music to learn the rules of this game. In short, we didn’t want to talk about the aftermath of the last regular season baseball series, so Andrew started a distraction contest to...

...determine the greatest song of all time, based on my limited knowledge of music and other countries.

First, we’ll go with the smattering of countries I can accurately point to on a globe and spell correctly—sorry, Kyrgustan (nope: it was Kyrgyzstan)—and then, we’ll go state by state in the good ol’ US of A.

*Note: Feel free to disagree with my choices violently, and suggest better songs in the comments. I will not listen to you, nor will it affect the outcome of this ridiculous distraction contest, but I want you all to feel both seen and heard, even though I don’t know what most of you look like, nor sound like, but I want you all to feel effectively placated.

“Business Time” by Flight of the Conchords won New Zealand, and we now take a mandatory alphabetic pause for the DPRK (Dangum Po-tato’s Republic of Kyrgyzstan). Turns out that North Korea’s decades-long isolation has affected their musical propaganda as much as everything else.

The Songs

1) Potato Pride

Oh ho ho, potato pride! Yes, it’s the song that took Anchor of Gold by storm during the Nashville regional. You know, when we sat around like doofuses for 90 minutes because there was lightning in like Bowling Green or Clarksville, and eventually it started raining at Hawkins Field. Then we waited another 212 hours for that to pass, and Xavier won after a whole four minutes of action.

I’m significantly annoyed now. Why did I elect to remember that?

Anyway, this is some sort of Lawrence Welk-sounding ballad about an old man who apparently needs to get outside a whole lot more. Of course there’s a throwaway line about the party making his hometown a paradise on earth, which will be a recurring theme. Meanwhile the old man lived to a ripe old age, drunk “potato liquor” (isn’t that just vodka?) and talked about his hometown’s bumper potato harvest. Hail Potatoman.

This being North Korea, I presume the bumper potato harvest was a 1-ounce bag of expired Golden Flakes washing up on the shore, and “tteok” and was a noise he made after biting his tongue. Chewy tteok indeed.

2) Chollima on the Wing

Turn on the YouTube captioning for this one for extra laughs. HEY HEY HEYEHEYHEY HEY HEY HEY HEYHEY.

As best I can tell, Chollima refers to a 1950s plan to industrialize North Korea. Lo and behold, prioritizing a ludicrous increase in quantity worked very short-term, until it shockingly resulted in lower quality and burned out the labor force in 5 years. The leaders ignored that, and continue to tout it as a success to this day. I may also have just described every corporate merger.

Musically, this is like the theme to some surrealist Korean anime, although that lady really can sing. I can’t begin to guess what year this was recorded — you could tell me 1981 or 2019, and I’d believe both equally. Credit to whatever maniac edited this video, because the cuts are on point and the video choices are phenomenal. I particularly like the world’s largest TRS-80 about 54 seconds in.

Pictured: The actual machine where Coral was designed.

3) Bellows

Oh my God, Juchewave is a genre. There’s a whole Eurodisco vibe going on here, and the bass line during the break is ripped straight out of Blondie’s “Atomic.” Someone else compared the general feel to Boney M’s “Rasputin,” and that’s not a wholly terrible analogy.

From listening to it, you’d think the lyrics would be some chilled out praise of the North Korean regime or something. No, this is the touching ballad of a bunch of hungry farmers who harvest rice with blood and sweat, but watch it all get stored in the landlord’s warehouse. Eventually they take the furnaces they’d used to sharpen sickles, use it to fashion spears and swords instead, kill the landlord, “unleash their hatred of 10,000 years,” and burn everything down.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

(Having read the YouTube comments for these videos, I am legitimately worried about some people’s mental health. The number of pro-DPRK comments are something.)

*Andrew’s Note: Pretty amazing Dear Leader allowed a song glorifying revolt against one’s oppressors without, you know, damning all involved to death by obliteration and/or having to spend an evening with Dennis Rodman.

4.) We Will Safeguard the Leadership of the Revolution with Desperate Courage!

And finally, it’s our obligatory overtly militaristic Communist entry, although this one is most noteworthy for the ridiculously overblown title. (Not that “The Korean People’s Army State Merited Chorus” is a whole lot better.)

I presume this is like Japanese wrestling move names, where the Blue Thunder Bomb, Space Flying Tiger Drop, and Ocean Cyclone Suplex are everyday things.

Fun fact: Japanese wrestlers have no cervical vertebrae.

Google Translate says this “I will defend the leaders of the revolution with all my might,” which is less amusing but probably more accurate. It’s every Soviet-style march you’ve heard in your life. None of them are ever going to live up to Sacred War. Quit trying.

Honorable Mention

Excellent Horse-Like Lady

No, really. That’s the name. We open with either a rip-off of Una Paloma Blanca by the George Baker Selection or the world’s most demented merry-go-round (either way). The cartoon horse running sound effects that get added two minutes in are a classy touch too.

But let’s talk about the lyrical translation, which opens with “Our factory comrades say in jest — why, they tell me I am a virgin on a stallion!” because she has so much energy.

This is disqualified because I refuse to believe any of this is real. This is a plot to give viewers an aneurysm.

Anyway, please enjoy finding a chemical wash for your mind.

Vote in the Poll


"Business Time" won New Zealand. Please vote for the least frightening entry for North Korea.

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Potato Pride
    (15 votes)
  • 9%
    Chollima on the Wing
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    (1 vote)
  • 14%
    We Will Safeguard the Leadership of the Revolution with Desperate Courage!
    (3 votes)
21 votes total Vote Now

Up Next


Benevolent leader provided us with beautiful and most glorious songs from best singers in North Korea, and therefore, the world. Which country’s up next?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    (2 votes)
  • 20%
    Ottoman Empire
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    (2 votes)
  • 60%
    Outer Mongolia
    (12 votes)
20 votes total Vote Now