Kim Jong Un's Official New Theme Song, Translated

The newly unveiled North Korean anthem "Onward Toward the Final Victory" includes such lines as "exploding the mental strength of the united heart of our million citizens."

The "Great Successor" now has his very own theme song. It's been reported that North Korea has released the first official propaganda hymn dedicated to its new supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.

Entitled "Onward Toward the Final Victory," the song (embedded above) has been broadcast repeatedly on North Korean state-run media outlets, such as the Korean Central Broadcasting Station and Radio Pyongyang, in an apparent effort to reinforce Kim's carefully cultivated image. The song plays several times a day, and North Korean paper Rodong Sinmun announced that it, naturally, has been enthusiastically received by the citizens.

The title of the song comes from the last phrase of Kim's April 15 speech, which marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's founding leader, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un's grandfather. Strong militaristic images appear throughout the song, emphasizing young Kim's determination to pursue his father's "songun," or "military-first," regime. We've translated -- to the best of our ability -- the lyrics to "Onward Toward the Final Victory" below (please post any suggested changes in a comment).

Songs dedicated to North Korean leaders are common. For example, Kim Jong Il's signature tune, "No Motherland Without You," was broadcast frequently during his reign.

"The most striking difference with Kim Jong Un's is that his name is never actually sung in the song dedicated to him," said Asia Society Associate Fellow John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul. "So perhaps it can be thought of as the new official song of the Kim Jong Un era. Rather than focusing on the role of Kim Jong Un personally, the agents in the song are the North Korean people, Worker's Party and military."

Delury continued, "In terms of the ideological message, the phrase 'powerful, prosperous nation' is given clear priority. That is not a surprise, since for some years 2012 has been built up as the beginning of the era of the DPRK's emergence as a powerful and prosperous country. It may be of some marginal significance, however, that the stronger claim -- of a powerful and prosperous great country (taeguk, something like "great power") -- is downgraded to simply powerful and prosperous country (gukga)."

And what to make of the phrase "the final victory"?

"I assume the final victory refers to reunification of the Korean Peninsula," Delury said.

The hymn comes amid Kim's efforts to portray himself a benevolent, fatherly figure, a stark departure from his father's strong but cold rule. Kim Jong Un has also reportedly relaxed rules on the consumption of Western products like pizzas, hamburgers and french fries.

And to all the musicians reading this, you're in luck. The score to "Onward Toward the Final Victory" was released on Rodong Sinmun's site on June 26. We've published it below.

And now, the lyrics:

Song: "Onward Toward the Final Victory"
노래 <최후의 승리를 향하여 앞으로>
Composer: Yoon Du Geun, Lyrics: Kim Moon Hyuk
작사 윤두근, 작곡 김문혁

By exploding the mental strength of the united heart of our million citizens
일심의 천만군민 정신력 폭발시켜
Joseon resounds the marching drums of the powerful, prosperous nation
조선은 강성국가 진군북 울려간다
Let's go, Great Baekdu-mountain nation, by the calling of the political party
나가자 백두산대국아 당중앙 부름따라
Onward, onward to the final victory
최후의 승리를 향하여 앞으로 앞으로

As our undefeated army boasts winning a hundred battles
불패의 군력으로 백승을 떨쳐가며
Joseon is bolstered as the gun barrel of the powerful, prosperous nation
조선은 강성국가 총대로 떠받든다
Let's go, Great Baekdu-mountain nation, Songun's height of ensign
나가자 백두산대국아 선군의 기치높이
Onward, onward to the final victory
최후의 승리를 향하여 앞으로 앞으로

By raising the beacon of the new industrial revolution of the new century
새 세기 산업혁명 봉화를 추켜들고
Joseon is spreading the word of the rise of the powerful, prosperous nation
조선은 강성국가 기상을 떨쳐간다
Let's go, Great Baekdu-mountain nation, embrace the blessing of the sun energy
나가자 백두산대국아 태양기 축복안고
Onward, onward to the final victory
최후의 승리를 향하여 앞으로 앞으로


northkoreamusic.jpg

This article originally appeared at Asia Society, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Shuan Sim, a contributor to the Asia Society's blog, is originally from Singapore and is currently studying Journalism at New York University.

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