The First People’s Artist of DPRK


The Korean people still remember Kim Ok Song (June 1916–October 1965) who created beautiful, fascinating and interesting melodies, mild and unique songs.

The famous composer did not receive professional music education. If he had anything inherited from his parents in the days of the Japanese imperialists’ military rule, it was just plaintive tunes his mother sang for him as lullabies, and what he treasured and nurtured was the dream of music.

Korea’s liberation in August 15, 1945, was a landmark to the wandering musician as it gave him an opportunity to become a popular composer.

The young fiddler became a composer, to the astonishment of his acquaintances. He got great creative inspiration from the reality of liberated Korea where the women, who had been subjected to maltreatment with no basic rights in the fetters of feudalism, became legitimate masters of the country while enjoying equal rights with men.

Therefore, in 1947 Kim created Song of Women which sings of the patriotism of the Korean women. He produced excellent works in succession such as cantata The Amnok River and orchestral music A Farm Village in Spring.

During the Fatherland Liberation War (June 25, 1950–July 27, 1953) he as a war composer conducted energetic activities to create militant and revolutionary music pieces encouraging the People’s Army soldiers and the people in the rear to the victory in the war.

He lost a lot of things in the war, but also learned many things.

Seeing a platoon leader who had lost his beloved wife and daughter by the enemy giving vent to his indignation and calling for revenge before his fallen comrades-in-arms, the composer wrote a song with burning hatred against the enemy.

Hence the song To a Decisive Battle.

In 1951 he happened to see a soldier writing a letter in a break of a fierce battle. The soldier wrote that he, who had left his home silently, was writing the letter with the joy of having received a decoration. Deeply impressed by the letter and the looks of the soldiers on Height 1211 bravely fighting against the enemy, Kim produced song My Song in the Trench.

“Composition should be done with the heart, not with talent. Beautiful music is in the voice of the people. Love the reality and approach it ardently.” This is what Kim always kept in his mind as his creed in creation.

From September 1955 he worked as vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Union of Musicians of Korea, and as a professional writer of the union from 1960.

He rarely spoke and liked thinking, and his music pieces were beautiful and non-repetitive.

This was possible for his endless pursuit of new things and his zeal highly responsive to the reality.

Every place he went to was represented in poems and songs.

Seeing the orchard in ever-changing Pukchong, he produced song See the “Golden” Trees on the Hillsides, Rows of Apple Trees, envisioning the future socialist paradise filled with the aroma of fruits. Besides, he created various other styles of works such as Song of Mangyongdae, orchestral music and chorus A Bumper Harvest in the Chongsan Plain and nursery song Rabbits in My House.

He experienced the reality deeply and created many masterpieces with his original way of thinking and persevering efforts. Still today his songs are sung by the Koreans.

He was the first to be honoured with the title of People’s Artist of the DPRK when it was instituted on July 27, Juche 50 (1961).


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