A Slovenian band known for wearing military gear and making vague references to fascism may be the first foreign rock group to perform in North Korea, the BBC reports. Laibach has been invited by the North Korean government to perform in Pyongyang in August as part of the celebration of the country's independence from Japan 70 years ago.
Norwegian artist and director Morten Traavik, who says he has worked with the North Korean government on other cultural projects, organized the show. The band says the trip is being financed mainly by the Norwegian Arts Council, and that they're hoping for more funds "from Slovenia and elsewhere".
"The trip to North Korea was put in front of us by Norwegian cultural activist Morten Traavik, who directed the video for The Whistleblowers, and is already known for his cultural work within Korea. He believes that Laibach is what Koreans need at the moment and that North Korea is what Laibach need," the band told Fusion in a statement.
Here's the video:
Traavik is the man behind other projects like Miss Landmine, in which women who have had amputations from land mine injuries competed for prosthetic limbs in a beauty contest.
"Both the country and the band have been portrayed by some as fascist outcasts. The truth is that both are misunderstood," Traavik told the BBC.
No-one is quite sure if Laibach are actually a fascist band or just a deep parody of fascist ideology. Before the release of their most recent album last year, Death and Taxes wrote:
Nobody could tell if they were parodying fascists or if they were actual fascists. Asked directly once, they answered, “We are fascists as much as Hitler was a painter,” which would seem to be the same thing as saying, We are fascists a little bit.
The band is hoping to take some groupies with them to Pyongyang–they are working with two government-approved North Korea tour operators to get permission for foreign fans to attend the concert, according to a note on their website.
The note invites fans to sign up in anticipation of getting government approval:
"Dear friends, frontrunners and followers,
Since announcing our upcoming North Korea tour, we have been receiving a steady stream of requests from fans and media alike, understandably eager to experience this historical event with us live there and then.
The concerts will take place in the Main Hall of the Kim Won Gyun Music Conservatory in the capital Pyongyang on August 19 and 20, seating up to 1000 per show.
Although our main mission is to give as many Koreans as possible the Laibach experience, we are also working hard to ensure that a certain number of foreign visitors, in the spirit of brotherhood and understanding between the peoples, will be welcome as well."
Laibach are just the latest in a tradition of foreign performers taking part in oppressive regimes' celebrations: as C.S. Monitor tells us, Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Usher made it to Libya for Gaddafi and then of course there's Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea to host a basketball game and hang out with Kim Jong-un. Others, like Eric Clapton, have resisted in spite of the North Korean regime's best efforts.