Kim Jong-un’s favourite musicians appear to have been loved into a lavish “palace”, according to reports.
The North Korean despot is said to be a big fan of the Band of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), whose propaganda-laden music has made them famous in their homeland.
Now analysis by NK News suggests that group members could be living a life of luxury as an “extraordinary reward” for their loyalty.
It comes after the dictator admitted that food supplies were “becoming tense”.
Recent pictures and music videos suggest that the young musicians could be based at the impressive Kumsusan Guesthouse in the east of capital Pyongyang.
It boasts a lake and “multiple” palatial buildings, it is reported, having been built to accommodate Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a visit two years ago.
Kim met band members at the Kumsusan Guesthouse on Sunday, according to state media – and it was also the location where they shot at least one of their most recent videos.
This could be coincidence, but NK News suggests that the North Korean leader is unlikely to have met them for a photo shoot.
On top of that, group members have been pictured relaxing and writing music in lavish surroundings, which could be inside the luxury complex or the nearby Paekhwawon Guesthouse, which has also been the location of recent videos.
The news site, which has a headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, states: “Multiple scenes in the new videos suggest that the SAC band lives in the luxurious accommodations of these palaces or the equally plush Samjiyon Theater across town, as members have been shown sitting on couches writing together late into the night and pacing the halls while studying music.
“The band could have been granted long-term residence or seasonal access to these places as a gift from the state.
“The band currently serves as the ruling party’s favored propaganda tool and is an instrumental part of the regime’s ideological campaign to shore up loyalty to Kim Jong Un — an apparent issue facing the country, according to the North Korean leader.”
The group has been increasingly visible in recent months, with the Kim regime reportedly keen to use its music to stir up loyalty and a spirit of sacrifice.
Last week, the Pyongyang government admitted to a United Nations committee that food production dropped to its lowest ever level in 2018 due to “natural disasters and weak resilience, insufficient farming materials and low level of mechanisation.”
While the North Korean government rarely admits its problems, Kim appeared in North Korean state media last month and confessed that the “food situation is now getting tense.”
The Pyongyang government blames many of North Korea’s on UN Security Council sanctions put in place to discourage the North Koreans from developing nuclear weapons.
The “main obstacles to the government’s efforts to achieve the sustainable development of the country,” according to the report submitted to the UN, include the “continued sanctions and blockade on (North Korea)”.