First Woman Conductor

Whenever they hear the solemn yet vigorous and passionate orchestral music, people are fascinated by the movement of the mysterious baton.

But every conductor has his or her own attachment for the baton.

Baton freely leads the profound musical world as vigorous as the violent stream and as deep as the sea. A woman has specially loved the baton.

She is Kim Il Sung Prize Winner and People’s Artist Jo Jong Rim, Adviser to the Mansudae Art Troupe. She has devoted herself to developing the musical art of Korea for over 50-odd years, along with the baton.

She studied to her heart’s content under the loving care of the great leader Kim Il Sung without feeling sorrow of a war orphan.

From her childhood, she had an unusual instinct for music. The state enabled her to learn at the then Pyongyang University of Music to her heart’s content as she hoped.

After graduation from the university, she devoted all her creative talents and passion as a conductor at national art organizations.

Her conduct is characterized by clear stress and very powerful and vigorous action based on the big radius of her arm movement.

She is an unusual enthusiast. She could proficiently lead tens of instrumentalists to the world of representation demanded by the music thanks to her tireless passion along with her high ability in conduct.

Typical works she created and conducted are the revolutionary opera “The Flower Girl” adapted from the immortal masterpiece of the same title, the revolutionary operas “Song of Mt. Kumgang” and “Tell O Forest” and the music and dance tale “Song of Paradise”.

Kim Myong Chol, Section Chief of the Mansudae Art Troupe, says:

“In April 1970 the great leader Kim Il Sung appreciated the music and dance performance given in welcome of the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on a visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea together with him. Congratulating her on her successful performance, he said Premier Zhou had greatly admired her conduct. Premier Zhou expressed his envy, saying China has a population of over 800 million, but it doesn’t have such a woman conductor. He also said Kim Il Sung had brought her up wonderfully. At this, Kim Il Sung said with modesty that Conductor Jo Jong Rim is a product of our socialist system.”

She has wonderfully played the role of conductor while bringing up her two daughters without any worry under the care of the socialist system.

Jo Jong Rim says:

“Once, two reporters of the Japanese NHK called on me. They asked me several questions with interest. Saying it is impossible to be successful with children, they asked me how and who brought up my children. I answered: The state brought them up. We have the Pyongyang September 15 Weekly Nursery in our country. It is a palace for children with good conditions. Children are provided with nourishing meals based on the calculation of nutritive components. If a child is ill, he or she can be treated in the ward of the nursery. So I could work without any worry about my children. Listening to me, they clapped their hands and said: You are so lucky. Your life is successful. Your career as a conductor is wonderful.”

Then, what is the real secret of her success as a woman conductor?

The great leader Kim Jong Il came out to the theatre several times. Seeing her conduct, he led her to make a success as a conductor step by step. He gave strength and courage and showed warm love to her time and again.

Considering her merits for development of the musical art of the country, the respected Kim Jong Un sent a kind spread to her on the occasion of her 80th birthday and invited her as a special guest of the Eighth Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Jo Jong Rim is over 80, but she is devoting all her remaining days to the training of reserves and the musical creation with youthful stamina and passion.

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