Chongjin Kindergarden’s Guitar Ensemble

illus. flickr

illus. flickr

Nuclear Talent
When we think of children around 4-6 of age as guitarists, we usually think of them as adorable little kids just plucking the strings & having fun. With skills at their infancy, at best. Well, the first part is true at least. Because going viral all over the web are videos of a guitar ensemble from Chongam Kindergarten, North Hamgyong province in North Korea. And what kept everyone glued to their screens was that unbelievable plethora of pure skill, teamwork & professionalism that would make even the most prolific guitarists pause and look.

Here is probably the most famous one:

A Global Audience
Little surprise at how internet audiences across the world reacted, looking at the country they came from. Of course, some of us like to put that political banter aside & just marvel at the kids’ guitar skills. Curiously the kinder comments seem to come from guitarists themselves. Must be a musician thing.

“…Those smiles are nailed in place. You can tell they’re perfectly capable of maintaining those sunny grins while holding their hands over an open flame. The disciplined practice and finger strength and dexterity required to play guitar like that takes years, and all that work cannot be beneficial to the healthy development of such young hands. Not only do I worry about these five kids themselves, but I wonder how many other kids in this program washed out because they weren’t up to the rigors? And what happened to them?

This is why we worry more since they hail from DPRK rather than, say, Canada.”-Donald Petersen, 3 Oct 2011 via

“Incredible! And all on full-size guitars.Just look at those little hands work those necks.”-Laturb, 11 Feb 2012 via

“People do what they want at free countries, including the children, if these children want to play guitar inside for hours I’m sure, that’s fine. But, I think most kids want to be out in the sun running with each other and getting dirty, which makes me think these kids didn’t “accomplish” anything, they were forced to “complete” this task.”-LiamsMusic78, YouTube user

“My brother played the violin at age 4 with a lot of discipline and he still played and had fun! Plus regarding the smiles, ask any 5 year old to smile for a camera, it will mostly seem fake. I think the world should acknowledge these children for their talent. I bet if they were american like we are then they would be super stars! What a shame!”-Carolina, 9 April 2011 via

That awkward moment when a 4-year old’s guitar skills just happen to be that über.

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