North Korea Arirang Mass Games

Dear reader,

The Arirang Mass Games are the most beautiful (and controversial) choreographed performance I have ever seen, where thousands of artists, gymnasts, martial art experts, dancers and acrobats join the stage and perform acrobatic games with  music and colors. They’re held everyyear, and this year in August I joined the crowds  in the May Day Stadium of Pyongyang. Paid 100 € and I would do it again, it’s just too beautiful to watch and magic, the music, colours, background noise, the sound of the thousands of boards flapping in the background forming stunning drawings and images. I agree that such show is highly (and rightly) criticized for the conditions that the performers are put under in order to provide such a magnificent and synchronized act, but then, that doesn’t mean that the show itself is not stunning to the eyes

Arirang Mass Games Stanito North Korea 1© Stanito, 2013

The Mass Games are a mix of performing gymnasts with a background made of other 30 thousands of children holding cards, see the background images that change every time? It is because these children (major factor in the criticism on this event) flip many boards or cards, creating the mosaic images you can see in the back. Before everything begins, the cards are flipped creating a sourround noise throughout the stadium, creating lots of excitement.
It sort of looks like the WorldCup open ceremonies, as the Mass Games have every aspect of Korea depicted since 1953 until nowadays: the birth of Kim Il-Sung in Mt. Paektu, red color flowers symbolizing working class, victories of the country, children, their co-operative farms, their struggle against US and Japanese imperialism, their technology progress and finally the dreamed reunification of the Koreas. This is only their vision, of course.

Arirang Mass Games Stanito North Korea© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games Stanito North Korea 2© Stanito, 2013

Each scene counts with thousands of performers perfectly coordinated. Can you imagine thausands of acrobats leaving the stage within  2-3 seconds after their performance? Believe me, they were gone within the blink of an eye.

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 1© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 2© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 3© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 4© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 5© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 6© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 7© Stanito, 2013

Arirang Mass Games North Korea stanito 8© Stanito, 2013

Even though I took lots of photos, I don’t think they represent the exact feeling and exaltation I had while I was watching, so many movements, athletes flying on top of our heads.
This is a very short video I made with my phone:


7 thoughts on “North Korea Arirang Mass Games

    1. Dear Alice,
      you nailed it. There are some harsh criticism on this regard, how these athletes are treated when training for their performance. If you look carefully their faces are always smily, like, always, which clearly makes you feel the pressure they’re under.

    1. Hi Tracy. Indeed, it was amazing, I would literally go back just to see this show again. I spent lots of time filming and taking photos of it so I would happily go back to watch it undisturbed 🙂

  1. Yeah, their struggle against U.S. imperialism, or whats better known as the U.S. coming to the aid of South Korea when Kim Il-Sung got Stalins approval to invade the South. Otherwise S.K. today would be full of Gulags, mass starvation, summary execution, suppression of any free thought, religous persecution, no care for any born with physical or mental disabilities, the imprisoning of 3 generations of your family if you said anything critcizing the Kim regime, great technology progresses (like no internet and constant power outages), and a leader who gorges himself fat with food while someone from Hoeryong cant even get any rice to eat. Nice pictures though, maybe you should ask them next time if you can have a tour of Yodok?

  2. Hi Jay, thank you for your comment.
    Although, it seems to me that you haven’t read any other post I wrote in here (North Korea or maybe Israel and Palestine are good examples), otherwise you wouldn’t come up with Yodok camp with sarcastic tone and neither you’ll be giving that obvious rambling speech about the North Korean reality and propaganda facts.
    I’m glad you liked the photos though, even though they do not reflect even the 10% of the magic that my eyes caught.

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