Page 3 Profile: Kang Chun-hyok, rapper


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Rapper’s delight?

Well, yes. But this 29-year-old rapper is from perhaps one of the most unlikely corners of the hip-hop map – North Korea.

Tell me more

It’s a far cry from the state-controlled pop and folk music usually produced by the country. Having escaped North Korea when he was 16, Kang Chun-hyok’s raps contain provocative messages.

Can’t say I’ve heard any of his songs…

You probably haven’t, unless you happened to attend the Kkotjebi in Bloom exhibition opening in Seoul this month. Chun-hyok performed to a crowd of humanitarian workers and foreign diplomats: “You took money that we made digging earth to fund nuclear weapons. Take out that fat from your pot belly. Nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons,” he sang.

How did he get out of North Korea?

Chun-hyok ran away  in 2001 to South Korea, where he is now studying fine arts at Hongik University.

Any other ventures?

Like many entrepreneurial rappers, Chun-kyok has his fingers in a couple of pies. He has drawn illustrations for a children’s book, Do You Know How Happy You Are? and has artwork on display at a Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human rights exhibition, which aims to highlight the hardships and adversity that North Korean children are up against. Chun-hyok particularly understands the children’s plight, as he was called a “flowering swallow”, which refers to homeless children searching for food and shelter.

A chart-topping future?

Chun-hyok wants to be the best rapper to come out of North Korea and is receiving musical guidance from a well-known South Korean hip-hop artist, Yang Dong-geun, and his fans have started crowd-funding to launch his music career.