Kim-pop: North Korean propaganda song goes viral on TikTok


A catchy propaganda song praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has taken TikTok by storm.

Key points:

  • Gen Z TikTok users have embraced the song, titled "Friendly Father," for its upbeat tempo and catchy melody.

  • The song glorifies Kim as "the great leader" and encourages praising him as "our friendly father." 

  • Experts say North Korean music serves as a tool for ideological indoctrination.


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The details:

  • The lyrics of "Friendly Father" suggest an effort to elevate Kim's status akin to his predecessors, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. A line from the viral song goes: “Let’s sing Kim Jong Un, the great leader/ Let’s brag about Kim Jong Un, our friendly father.”

  • Despite their apparent ideological intent, the song and other North Korean music videos have drawn millions of views on TikTok. Commenters joke that they hope "Friendly Father" is on Spotify, with some praising the tune for giving them "anime vibes."

  • Experts say music in North Korea is tightly controlled and most compositions are intended to spread ideological messages and reinforce loyalty to the regime. The songs are designed to have simple lines and catchy tunes to be an effective propaganda tool.

  • "The idea is they want to motivate, to strive towards a common goal for the benefit of the nation… they don't tend to produce songs like ballads,” Cambridge University scholar Alexandra Leonzini, who researches North Korean music, told BBC.

  • “Songs are used to telegraph the direction the state is going in… to signpost important moments and important developments in politics,” Leonzini added. “A song is almost like the newspaper in North Korea.”


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