Back on Wednesday, Ears To The House posed the question of why DJs continue to play in Saudi Arabia. The conclusion we reached was it had nothing to do with concerns over the country’s human rights record – and that the primary concern of those accepting work in the country was money, something which the Saudis have a lot of.
So it’s with all this in mind which Ears To The House poses a new question – which one of the higher echelon DJs will be the first to accept an invite for a no doubt well-paying gig in North Korea? After all, several of the higher echelon DJs had no problem playing in Saudi Arabia, nor did they have any issue playing plague raves during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic a few years ago. Why not play in Pyongyang with representatives of Kim Jong-un and the Workers Party of Korea in attendance?
Based on the highly questionable behaviour of a lot of these DJs, we don’t consider this a remotely unreasonable query – and we doubt whether any of what happens in the secretive state would affect their decision. But for the sake of the rest of us who still have some moral scruples, let’s have a look at what goes on within North Korea’s borders.
Life in the country can be anything you want it to be for those within the Kim family who have reigned over the country since the 1950s. But if you’ve been cast out of the family’s favour or are just an ordinary citizen, life is hard. The communist country has a command economy, and widespread poverty is rife. Indeed, North Korea has seen more than one person of mass starvation in its history.
And if you’ve done something the regime doesn’t like, which could be something as simple as not having a clean framed photo of the Supreme Leader in your house? You can end up in a concentration camp where some of the goings-on make Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany look like a playpen in comparison.
Don’t take our word for it. Listen to a former head of the Hoeryong concentration camp speaking about laboratories equipped with glass gas chambers. Experiments were performed in said chambers to see how much gas was required to kill various numbers of people. He harrowingly described how he once saw a family of four murdered in this way – the mother and father reportedly kept trying to give mouth-to-mouth to their suffocating children whilst they had the strength to do so.
Or take the case of Otto Frederick Warmbier. The American tourist went on a holiday to Pyongyang and came home in a coma. He was arrested at the airport – his alleged crime was to try and steal a propaganda poster from the hotel he was staying at. He was found guilty by the country’s kangaroo court and imprisoned for life – it was only after President Donald Trump intervened that Kim Jong-un agreed to his release.
When he returned to the USA on 12th June 2017, he was in a vegetative state. He died one week later, having never regained consciousness and with doctors unable to work out exactly how he ended up in a coma in the first place. Warmbier was far from the only person imprisoned in the country, of course – but the episode gave us a good idea of the beastly way North Korea treats its prisoners.
But rest assured that none of this will matter whenever a DJ from dance music’s higher echelons gets the offer from Pyongyang. Secretive nations don’t tend to want to remain secretive forever – just ask Saudi Arabia…