The scene shows the Pyongchon Bonghak High School students ‘warmly welcoming’ the Electric Turbine Factory workers, who have successfully fulfilled their production quotas. Typical of this socialist realism compositions is the depiction of the factory in the background with the turbines in full production, bursting with polluting, ooops we mean productive coke smoke as the plant supplies an endless stream of electricity to the citizens of Pyongyang.
The art reflects a touch of reality – just not as squeaky clean as depicted in the art, take a look here
The conductor is in her best shoes and outfit with a bright smile revealing a set of perfect teeth (no coca-cola in North Korea) on a raised platform with the lettering 평천봉학고등중학교: Pyongchon Bonghak High School.
The production site is plastered with slogans such as:자력갱생의정신으로부닥치는난관을자체의힘으로뚫고나가는전기타반직장아저씨들은우리의자랑”Our pride: workers who break through the difficulties with self-reliance.”
Juche is the guiding principle of the North Korean economy and it has a connotation of “self- reliance”.
The red overhead slogan reads: March strongly towards the final victory: 최후승리를위한강행군앞으로.
The factory workers are walking past the slogans, team competition charts and propaganda posters that are typical at the entrance of factories and farms.
Slogans at the Chollima Steelworks factory in 2011
The painting depicts a typical scene in North Korea where musicians, and flag wavers will get up in the morning to inspire workers to achieve their targets.
Flag wavers in Wonsan encouraging the construction of the Kalma Resort.
In addition are the flower bouquets being handed out to the workers by schoolchildren to thank the workers for their efforts – in our film Comrade Kim the garland of fake flowers is used to give the coal miners for surpassing their targets.
Comrade Kim with her garland of fake flowers.
In the mid-ground the school children form a line and wave fake flowers (typically used for people’s parades)
Fake flowers which were used en-masse on Kim Il Sung Square for the people’s parade are used on the streets during a military parade
School band during the football matches which take place to keep the crowd amused as the Pyongyang Marathon run takes place.
Music and singing are scenes you will come across on almost every trip to North Korea, school kids, grannies, professional propaganda units provide entertainment via singing, comedy shows, theatre, flag waving, you name it they will use it to inspire the workers.
But life is not always as pleasant as a brass band, one Korean tour guide who had worked with a ‘shock brigade’ construction team in his youth said to me perhaps that more tiring than the work was to have to listen to the propaganda vans blasting out a seemingly endless monologue of encouragement interspersed with distorted North Korea electronic synthesizer music.