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Handsome accordion player is North Korea’s kingmaker: Reuters Wire Service keeps us up to date on the world of Accordion Politics

December 23, 2011

I can’t really say anything about this story one way or the other, but Jang Song-thaek of North Korea is an accordionist in the news this week:

(Reuters. Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:06am EST By Ju-min Park and Jack Kim)

[Quoting from the Reuters story]  “The power behind the throne in North Korea was a dashing accordion player in his youth, whose life changed when he met the daughter of autocratic founder Kim Il-Sung at university and wooed and married her despite the dictator’s opposition.”

“Now an ascetic-looking, bespectacled 65, Jang Song-thaek has overcome a purge, bitter palace intrigue and personal tragedy to become the chief adviser to his nephew Kim Jong-un, the third-generation leader of North Korea after his father Kim Jong-il’s death last week.”

“Jang was born in 1946. He was not from the North Korean elite, and not the sort of husband Kim Il-sung wanted for his headstrong daughter Kim Kyong-hui, an author and some North Korean defectors have said.”

“‘He drank well and was fun and played the accordion well. And he was a very smart guy,’ said Jang Sung-min, author of the book War and Peace: Where is North Korea headed after Kim Jong-il.

“‘So many girls liked him. He was so charming, that’s why Kim (Kyong-hui) fell in love with him.'”

“The two wed in 1972, but it was not a happy marriage….  Kim Kyong-hui was later described as an alcoholic and the couple’s daughter committed suicide at her apartment in Paris in 2006, ironically because her parents were opposed to her boyfriend.”

“He also ran afoul of other powerful people at the time and was badly hurt in a car accident, South Korean media said. It’s not known how he did it, but he was soon back in the inner circle.

“‘He is exceptional in the grasp of the mechanics of power,’ said Baek Seung-joo of the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. ‘He is a powerful man, a skilled operator and a bold person….'”

“After his brother-in-law suffered a stroke in 2008, Jang gradually boosted his influence and cemented his place in the power circle, becoming, with his wife, one of Kim’s most trusted advisers by the time of his death.”


I cannot find a picture of this guy playing accordion.  I’m not sure we want him as a spokesperson.

I’m sure there is more to be learned about this story.  We are of course totally left hanging about what Jang was playing on his accordion.  It may be he was playing trot style 50’s-era dance music.  That’d be cool.  We wrote a bit about the Korean band Dallae a bit ago.  Onwards.

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