Propaganda song on TikTok: How North Korea is trying to win the hearts and minds of the young generation

6. 05. 2024 | Natalie Bezděková

A new song promoting Kim Jong-un contains phrases previously associated only with his grandfather. This suggests a shift in the dictator’s cult of personality. The music is very catchy and is gaining popularity not only in North Korea but also on TikTok. There are lots of smiles and enthusiasm in the video – workers, athletes with medals, a woman washing a bus, scientists in protective suits, and a child waving a flag.

The conductor is leading the choir in song: “Let us sing of Kim Jong-un, our great leader. Let us boast of Kim Jong-un, our friendly father.” So begins North Korea’s latest propaganda song, “Friendly Father.”

When Kim Jong-un released it, he probably had no idea it would become a hit on social media. The BBC describes how the song has gone viral on TikTok, where Generation Z users are embracing it with enthusiasm without realising who they are really celebrating – the figure responsible for the country’s misery and terror.

But experts say the song is much more sinister than it seems. It is another of the propaganda pop songs produced by the Communist regime to penetrate the minds of the nation.

Peter Moody, a North Korea analyst, says the song is upbeat and catchy, with a rich orchestral lineup, similar to Western pop hits. The song’s goal is to get into people’s minds, not just to gain commercial success.

The melody must be simple and easy to remember, according to Alexandra Leonzini of Cambridge University, who studies North Korean music. The regime prefers melodic structures that are accessible to the masses.

Dedications to Kim Jong-un as “father” and “great leader” appear in the lyrics, a change from the past when those terms were reserved for his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. This suggests that Kim Jong-un is consolidating his image as a head of state and separating himself from his ancestors.


Author of this article

Natalie Bezděková

I am a student of Master's degree in Political Science. I am interested in marketing, especially copywriting and social media. I also focus on political and social events at home and abroad and technological innovations. My free time is filled with sports, reading and a passion for travel.


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