Morten Traavik has organised several art exchanges with North Korea, but this time he may have agreed to more than he could handle. Laibach, a cult band for 35 years is invited to do a concert in Pyongyang on North Korea’s Liberation Day so the people of North Korea can be exposed to a different type of music. In Morten Traavik and Ugis Olte’s documentary film, Liberation Day, we follow the band’s unique experience in North Korea.
What does it takes to prepare for a concert in an unfamiliar place and culture?
Laibach, a provocative band that used the totalitarian aesthetics and has been blamed for the most part, isn’t exactly given a warm welcome during their so-called welcome dinner. The Slovenian band must work with the North Korean organisers and they are met with challenge after challenge. From concert content to set-up issues and misunderstandings, the Slovenian band is determined to play in North Korea.
Song choice and even lyrics are criticised during a test run for the world’s toughest censorship committee. It’s not only a challenge of what not to include in the background visual animations, but even how to take photos with different buildings in the background as to cause any disrespect. Their strange and different experiences make for an entertaining and well put together film, with interesting additions to the overall story, such as when one member decides to explore outside the hotel on their own despite the strict guide policy.
The film goes from planning to rehearsals with a brief look at the result with the band playing on stage for an audience who has never experienced this type of performance in their lives. A unique and intriguing documentary that takes a look at the North Korean culture and will leave wanting to see more of the concert and probably humming the Mt. Paektu song.