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HomeFact CheckNorth Korean Military Choir Did Not Perform Queen’s ‘I Want To Break...

North Korean Military Choir Did Not Perform Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’, Viral Video Is Edited

Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

A video has gone viral on social media, purportedly showing the North Korean military choir covering British band Queen’s classic, “I want to break free”, with the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in attendance.  The archived version of the post can be seen here.

Fact check

Newschecker analysed the video and noticed that the female singers’ lip movements are not in sync with the song, raising our doubts. Upon noticing a watermark reading ‘larsvonretriever’, we ran a keyword search for “North Korea break free lars von retriever”, which led us to this Youtube video, dated January 10, 2023, and titled, ‘I Want to Break Free’ (Queen) Performed In North Korea”. The video was uploaded by Lars Von Retriever, whose bio read, “I’m just a dog trying to Make The World Metal and Rock Again. Iconic metal and rock songs.  Irony, memes, metal. 100 percent real voices,” indicating that this video could have been satire.

The description of the song read, “Very rare footage of the North Korean girl group ‘Moranbong Band’ and The North Korean Military Chorus.” Taking this as a cue, we ran a relevant keyword search and came across this video, dated March 22, 2020, and titled “Moranbong Band & State Merited Chorus – The 70th anniversary of The Workers’ Party of Korea”.

Viral video of North Korean military band performing Queen hit, ‘I want to break free’, found to be a digitally altered clip, combining visuals from various joint performances of a North Korean girl band and the state military choir, along with the audio from an unrelated event.
(Screenshots of viral video (left) and the Youtube video right)
Viral video of North Korean military band performing Queen hit, ‘I want to break free’, found to be a digitally altered clip, combining visuals from various joint performances of a North Korean girl band and the state military choir, along with the audio from an unrelated event.

A comparison of both the videos prove that it is the same band and at no point in the second video, did the North Korean military choir nor the Moranbong band perform Queen’s “I want to break free”.

We learnt that the Moranbong band is Kim Jong-un’s own state-approved girl band, formed in July 2012, where the North Korean leader reportedly handpicks the members. There are several videos of the band’s joint performances with the state’s military choir. We then came across this video of the band, dated September 25, 2017, where you can see that the viral video has included clips from this performance too.

Viral video of North Korean military band performing Queen hit, ‘I want to break free’, found to be a digitally altered clip, combining visuals from various joint performances of a North Korean girl band and the state military choir, along with the audio from an unrelated event.
(Screenshots of viral video (left) and Youtube video)
Viral video of North Korean military band performing Queen hit, ‘I want to break free’, found to be a digitally altered clip, combining visuals from various joint performances of a North Korean girl band and the state military choir, along with the audio from an unrelated event.

A comparison with this video, too, titled “Ri Sol-Ju Reappears with Kim Jong-Un on Feb – 16 – 2021”, indicated that the viral clip took parts from this performance, namely of Kim Jong-Un sitting with his wife, Ri Sol-ju.

Viral video of North Korean military band performing Queen hit, ‘I want to break free’, found to be a digitally altered clip, combining visuals from various joint performances of a North Korean girl band and the state military choir, along with the audio from an unrelated event.
Viral video of North Korean military band performing Queen hit, ‘I want to break free’, found to be a digitally altered clip, combining visuals from various joint performances of a North Korean girl band and the state military choir, along with the audio from an unrelated event.

While scanning the comments in the viral video, we learnt that the audio was taken from this Youtube video, dated December 7, 2022, titled “Epic 6500-person Pub Choir sings ‘I Want To Break Free’ (Queen)”. According to the description, “Wrap your brain around Pub Choir’s MOST AMBITIOUS VIDEO YET!!! Please enjoy this rendition of ‘I Want To Break Free’ by Queen, performed by 6,500 people across 10 shows and lovingly captured by Sleepy Mountain Films. WERE YOU THERE? ARE YOU A BIT PROUD? Leave us a comment and let us know how it feels to see all those happy people working together!,” confirming that it is the same version in the viral clip.

Conclusion

Viral video of North Korean military band performing Queen hit, ‘I want to break free’, found to be a digitally altered clip, combining visuals from various joint performances of a North Korean girl band and the state military choir, along with the audio from an unrelated event.

Result: Altered media

Sources
Youtube video, March 22, 2020
Youtube video, September 25, 2017
Youtube video, February 23, 2021
Youtube video, December 7, 2022


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Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Kushel HM
Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

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