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North Korea launches "Friendly Father" song and music video praising Kim Jong Un

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Tokyo — In North Korea, the release of Taylor Swift's new double album was completely eclipsed by the surprise drop of another brand-new song, complete with an elaborately produced music video. There were no tortured poets in sight for the release of "Friendly Father," an energetic pop-style piece of state propaganda praising North Korea's dictatorial leader Kim Jong Un.

The accompanying music video, dropped on the North Korean public by its state-controlled media this week, features dozens of seemingly ecstatic residents of all ages belting out catchy lines such as: "May this night never end, dear beautiful night of Pyongyang. The people believe and follow him with one heart! Let's boast of Kim Jong Un, a friendly father!"

The tune has all the subtlety of a beerhall polka — and the makings of a propaganda classic. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as seen in a photo featured in a music video for a propaganda song released by the country's state-run media on April 19, 2024, entitled "Friendly Father." Reuters/KRT

"Friendly Father" was also performed live at a lavish event, clips of which were aired by North Korean state TV, to mark the opening of a new apartment complex said to contain 10,000 homes in the capital, Pyongyang.

Kim, as portly as ever and wearing a black leather jacket, was pictured arriving at the ceremony in an armored limousine believed to have been gifted to him by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The video, featuring cheering soldiers, beaming children, amped-up pop singers and an ecstatic marching band, was professionally shot and edited. Analysts say it's part of a push to recreate and reenergize the leadership cult around Kim, whose family has ruled over North Korea since the country's founding in 1948.

The happy utopia it depicts, however, is a cruel lie, and it likely won't fool many people inside or outside the Hermit Kingdom.

Not far beyond the cheering crowds and shiny new buildings, more than 25 million North Koreans live in crumbling housing with restricted access to health care and modern amenities, and no freedom of movement or expression.

North Korea remains one of the poorest countries on earth. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said almost half of its population was undernourished as recently as 2022. 

More recent statistics aren't available, as Kim sealed his country's borders completely during the pandemic.

Since then, the Kim regime has spent vast amounts of money on fencing and guard posts along North Korea's border with China, to stop its people from escaping. While his country's sanctions-battered economy languishes, the "Friendly Father" has also lavished fortunes on developing and test-firing ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen in a music video for a propaganda song released by the country's state-run media on April 19, 2024, entitled "Friendly Father." Reuters/KRT

Kim may come off in the video as a good sport with a bad haircut, but if — as the song says — people follow him, it's because they have no choice. He will stop at nothing to stay in power.

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