Reports: Kim Jong-Un executes a conductor in front of orchestra

Reports: Kim Jong-Un executes a conductor in front of orchestra


norman lebrecht

May 09, 2021

The North Korean defector Yeonmi Park has shared a report that the conductor of the Pyongyang orchestra was shot 90 times in front of the orchestra and public on the dictator’s orders. The musicians were then made to troop past his body.

Apparently Kim took exception to something the conductor was reported to have said to a friend.

There is no independent corroboration of this story, as yet.

The conductor is named in the video as Hyun-woo Cho.

UPDATE: Here is a back-up report in South Korean media.


  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s not a country, it’s a psychiatric institution where the most dangerous patients have taken control.

    • Jay says:

      All it takes is one person to shoot this piece of trash and the country is free. No one would take offense to this as they all live in fear.

      This story will not make the rounds of international or national media as they are spineless. Case in point, Iranian proxy’s have been bombing Saudi Arabia & Israel for weeks and nothing is ever reported on the news. The media is worthless in this country.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      We are talking about North Korea, not the USA!!

  • Ben G. says:

    I find it hard to believe that this story hasn’t made the rounds of international media yet.

    Yes, North Korea is a country of political prisoners, but pulling the trigger 90 times in front of an orchestra and audience without anyone even flinching, seems to go overboard in the propaganda dept. Shooting the conductor just once would have been more credible.

    We need more details on this “Glory to the Nation” story

  • Ben G. says:

    Sorry, my mistake.

    I watched the whole video and at 6:38 the lady says that he shot the conductor outside with an AK-47 “in front of many artists”.

    Phew!–This I can believe…otherwise it would have been bad taste on Kim’s part to traumatize the children in the audience.

  • Jehi Bahk says:

    Very likely it was the conductor of the Unhasu (Milky Way) Orchestra ( His name was Hyun-woo Cho (also according to the statement of Ms. Yeonmi Park in the video).

  • Jehi Bahk says:

    Shocking what Ms. Yeonmi Park also has to say about how artists are treated in North Korea: “Kim Jong-un thinks that artists are more open minded, they are more prone to corrupt in their ideology. The general population has to do a self criticsm session once a week, but artists once in two days. That’s how Kim Jong-un makes sure that artists, their minds, don’t get corrupt and their entire ideologie of lifting the party and revolution and Kim is always on that point.”

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Mmm; sounds more like modern western identitarianism and group think every day. Cancel culture too. The only difference is that you’re cancelled with an AK47 in North Korea instead of reputationally destroyed for dissent in the western, er, democracies.
      Fall into lockstep with the progressive Left, or else.

  • Eusebius says:

    I hope Kim Jung Un will die like evil king Henry VIII, on his deathbed fearful for his soul, summoning a priest who came too late.

    • Marfisa says:

      When told he was about to die “The 55-year-old king replied he believed “the mercy of Christ is able to pardon me all my sins, yes, though they were greater than they be.” When asked if he wanted to speak to any “learned man,” King Henry asked for Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer “but I will first take a little sleep. And then, as I feel myself, I will advise on the matter.”
      Cranmer was sent for but it took hours for the archbishop to make his way on frozen roads. Shortly after midnight, Henry VIII was barely conscious, unable to speak. The faithful Cranmer always insisted that when he asked for a sign that his monarch trusted in the mercy of Christ, Henry Tudor squeezed his hand.”

      • AT-H says:

        Well, the King died happy before being sent to perdition – according to correct Christian doctrine.

        So, he trusted in Christ’s mercy: but to what avail?

        Being fearful of Christ’s judgment would have served this murderous, despotic king far better. He’s not the first person to have comforted himself by swallowing a dose of self-deception on his deathbed. If he wanted mercy, he should have made amends for his sins, in a timely manner.

        If you don’t want to publish this response – NL – that’s okay. Not every website allows freedom of speech, with regard to religion.

        • Saxon says:

          Er…definitely not “correct doctrine” to insist that you know that the King was “sent to perdition”. And the belief that you can make amends for your sins before death sounds like Pelagianism…

  • Jean says:

    To give perspective, in USSR the whole Karelian State Symphony Orchestra was arrested on July 18, 1938. Few escaped from the firing squad.

    No wonder the orchestra’s new history publication published in Putin’s Russia (in 2019) starts from the year 1939….

    • The View from America says:

      Not unlike reading the histories of various German companies that have celebrated centenary anniversaries over the past few decades. The company histories talk about the humble beginnings, the rise to prominence, the technological achievements and the product lines, the recent successes and future promise. But the period 1935-1945 is always curiously absent from the narrative, likely because the product line and customer base were vastly different during that particular that period of time …

    • Hayne says:

      You do know that Solzhenitsyn’s THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO is mandatory reading for high school students in Putin’s Russia, right?

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Not unlike Project 1619 then. The hard Left always reveals its atavism with precision, if not intelligence.

  • Monty Earleman says:

    I saw it on TV/online so it must be true.

  • sam says:

    Lorin Maazel said that when he and the NY Philharmonic performed in North Korea, and he had a rehearsal session of the North Korean national orchestra, he was very surprised at high level of playing of the musicians, at the level of preparedness as major Western orchestras.

    He said, of course, North Korean musicians practiced, literally, as if their lives depended on it. One wrong note in a concert in front of the Supreme Leaser could mean years of of force labor in prison and your entire family disgrace and set back socially for generations … or worse.

    (Well, alright, the other reason being, of course, North Koreans are trained in Russia, whose conservatories aren’t particularly known for being slouches either, lol…)

  • japecake says:

    Whenever I hear apologists for “cultural differences,” “other ways of knowing,” Marxism, and communism, I think of things like this. Imagine knowing the history of Russia, China, or Cuba and proudly wearing a t-shirt with Stalin, Mao, or Che on it.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Bravo. However, the ‘apologists’ just aren’t very bright. They make the big mistake of thinking that can engage in their ideological frolics and that there’ll be no consequences. Where in the world do they think Trump came from???!!!

  • Monty Earleman says:

    Don’t give US orchestras any ideas!!!

  • Marfisa says:

    The ‘back-up report’ in is dated April 29th. Park’s video is 6th May. As far as I can see using Google translate, Park is simply repeating what the news report said, with a few embellishments of her own. The credibility of sensationalist stories such as this from South Korean sources has been questioned by experts on Korean matters, as the Wiki article on the Unhasu orchestra makes clear.

  • fflambeau says:

    No more Mr. Nice Guy!

  • M McAlpine says:

    Nothing is new. Under totalitarian regimes artists fear for their lives. During WW2 a brilliant young German pianist made a derogatory remark about Hitler and was executed. Just how many perished under Stalin it is hard to say but everyone lived in constant fear of their lives. So to anyone who knows history knows that this story is sadly quite credible for this living under psychopaths.

  • Alan says:

    I don’t doubt for a second that Kim Jong Un is an evil psychopath but no dictator survives without the at least tacit support of the majority of the population and if they at some point choose to withdraw it the dictator is finished. Just ask Nicolae Ceaușescu about what THAT looks like.

    • The View from America says:

      The on-camera reading of charges and summary execution of Mr. & Mrs. C. had a grisly parallel in the treatment meted out to Saddam Hussein in Iraq …

    • Carolina says:

      Repression has many faces and people fear for their lives and their families. They cope living in fear and loose the will and the ability to fight back because the reality is that nobody listens. After so many years of dictatorship it’s only survival. Societies and other countries have a responsibility to watch closely and listen to the silence and half words of those who live under repression. The dictators first job is to destroy morale and will on their people so they can have full control. Jails are full of dying tortured human beings that have tried to raise their voices.

  • Pedro says:

    I second what M. McAlpine stated above about artists fearing for their lives under totalitarian regimes. I’ll add another unexpected example: Spain under the dictatorship of Franco, a regime which only ended in 1976, when he died. Spain was the last remaining dictatorship in Europe.

    The atrocities, the executions in Franco’s Spain were similar to what we know of North Korea under Kim Jong Un. And like North Korea, these atrocities have remained hidden, unspoken, for many years.

    Only now are descendants of those executed and buried in unmarked mass graves demanding justice, looking for closure.

    Interestingly, it is Spain’s artists themselves who bring the most eloquent attention to this matter. Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica, Pablo Casal’s self imposed exile to Puerto Rico and most recently, the work of film-maker Pedro Almodovar.

    For Spanish speakers, here’s a moving 10 minute documentary by Almodovar with prominent Spanish film professionals enacting the roles of 15 victims of Franco’s executions.

    The short film is described in English here:

    “The Silence of Others” is another award-winning film by Almodovar about efforts to erase the historical memory of Franco’s atrocities. Trailer:

    Spain’s rich cinematic tradition has also produced such films as the “13 Roses”, the true story of the 13 young women who were executed by firing squad in Madrid at Franco’s orders in 1939.

    The Franco dictatorship is recent history. Thanks to Spain’s talented and passionate artists, actors, film-makers and musicians, who are reminding us so vividly of the atrocities that occured. May they remind the world forever of the dangers of totalitarianism.

    • The View from America says:

      ” … a regime which only ended in 1976, when he died. Spain was the last remaining dictatorship in Europe.”

      Err … no. What about Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Soviet Union?

      Get the facts straight and your argument will go further.

  • Marge O. says:

    Sounds like more Anglo-Saxon propaganda MSM nonsense.

  • Marge O. says:

    Is’nt Mrs Park married to a US-ian and her hu$tling is based on carrying the Anglo-Saxon MSM propaganda of anti-Korea rubbish? Try defecting /leaving the US empire–LOL! FATCA, CBT, PFIC, etc..etc.. etc…the US-ians are the most financially enslaved on the planet.

  • cappy ern says:

    touch critic

  • Patrick says:

    Mr. Kim is a good friend of Mr. Xi Jin-Ping of the People’s Republic of China.

  • Chris says:

    I have absolutely no problem believing that it happened. Those who are skeptical, I guess they aren’t aware of the many brutal atrocities and tortures within North Korea. ……. …….. Also there have been tourists (visitors) who visited North Korea with this kind of attitude — believing that “oh, it couldn’t be that bad”, — and some of them found out through experience.