SK children’s song under fire above border

Defying crackdowns on a South Korean
children’s song “Three Bears” by state officials, North Korean students in
elementary, middle, and high school are said to be singing along to the banned
tunes, said to be a form of satire about the three-generation Kim family
leadership, Daily NK has learned. 

“Authorities have designated the song
‘impure’ and are carry out more sweeping clampdowns on those singing it,” a
source from South Pyongan Province told Daily NK in a telephone conversation.
“Student youth leagues are even checking song books, claiming that the song is
poking fun at the three-generation suryeong [supreme leader] system.”

This trend is also prevalent in North
Pyongan Province, according to a Daily NK informant residing in the region.

Students in their teens once used to enjoy
singing the theme song of a popular animation series in the North, “The Boy
Commander”, but now that has been replaced by “Three Bears.” Students have been
singing to these tunes without much thought, while playing card games or
horsing around, only to be caught by state authorities.

“The song ‘Three Bears’ was already introduced
to people almost a decade ago through illegal South Korean TV dramas, but some
years ago, it started becoming a popular children’s song among students,” she explained,
adding that “it hadn’t been a problem until recently.”

“After it was labeled a bad song, student
groups started cracking down on them,” she asserted.

Students’ song books are screened randomly
by Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League reps, sent by their advisors to look
through bags in class. “If they come across flash drives while they’re going
through their belongings,” she explained, “t
hey confiscate them and screen
them. If they contain South Korean movies or inappropriate songs, the students
are put through self-criticism and criticism sessions on the grounds of
distributing the content.”

Despite these crackdowns, the popularity of
the “Three Bears” is unlikely to subside, according to the source, who
commented that the song has already become part of student culture and is
therefore difficult, if not altogether impossible, for authorities to root it out.

The impetus for this trend is said to be
the South Korean TV drama “Full House,” which aired in the South in 2004, and
found its way into the North by way of illegal CDs. The lead characters in the
drama sang the children’s song together, and the popularity of actress Song Hye
Kyo, who became immensely popular from a previous drama “All In,” added more
fuel to the rise of this song, according to the source.

Another factor that has contributed greatly
is the growing number of students who gain access to South Korean dramas or
songs through their mobile phones, making tunes such as the “Three Bears” a
part of their everyday culture.

“You can’t be a teenager in the North now
without knowing any South Korean songs. Some students even have songs like
‘Bawiseom’ (rocky island) set as their ringtone,” she asserted.

“These students sing North Korean tunes
only during events and mostly avoid them in everyday life. On birthdays or
special days they enjoy singing South Korean songs, and although the front
pages of their song books may have North Korean songs written down in them,
towards the back you’ll find those from the South.”

Students in the North have changed the
lyrics of the original song to poke fun at the Kim leadership, reflected in one
of its main lines, “Three bears in the house run the whole show: grandpa bear
(Kim Il Sung), papa bear (Kim Jong Il), and baby bear (Kim Jong Un). Grandpa
bear is fat, papa bear is also fat, and baby bear is foolish.”

*The content of this article was broadcast to the North Korean people via Unification Media Group.

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