The pictures below don’t even approach showing the almost unbelievable performance ability of North Korean children. Joseph’s pictures showcase their talent better. But no images can show the professionalism, dedication, and raw talent these kids have.
The pictures below are from the Children’s Palace, which trains children to perform and create art and puts on incredible performances.
After their performance last time, my travel groupmate who was starting a school to train opera singers, reacted with disgust at the performance. As I understood, he saw their type of performance — technical perfection that could only result from repeated drilling and repetition devoid of personal expression — as destroying everything he valued about art — personal expression and emotional exploration. He saw children whose artistic world had been turned into a Dickensian dystopia.
I didn’t see much personal expression either, though I value technical perfection, at least in the context of learning with an outlet to grow into. You can see technical perfection in the drawings by the students near the bottom. But I saw no free expression of emotion besides nationalistic support of the state and the Kims outside these classrooms. Or inside them, for that matter.
That said, I’m not convinced these students didn’t enjoy something of their experience. They don’t know our world to compare theirs to so they may value their worlds more than we could imagine.
Anyway, click on the images for larger versions. Sorry they’re not all in focus. I did the best with the camera I had.
EDIT: see videos of these children here.