You may have heard a lot about the mass games in North Korea, but how much do you really know about this incredible annual performance of over 100,000 people? Here are 14 interesting Mass Games facts you probably didn’t know from the experts.
The Mass Games in North Korea; the world’s largest gymnastic performance.
You may have heard a lot about the mass games in North Korea, but how much do you really know about this incredible annual performance of over 100,000 people?
Here are 14 interesting Mass Games facts you probably didn’t know from the experts.
1. Arirang doesn’t actually mean ‘mass games’ or refer to the current mass games. The Arirang Mass Games were held between 2002-2013 (not in 2006) and the word ‘Arirang’ simply describes the theme of the mass games.
2. ’Arirang’ comes from a popular Korean folktale about a couple who are torn apart by an evil landlord. This is interpreted to represent the division of North and South Korea.
3. In 2018, after a 5 year break, the mass games in North Korea came back. This time under the title ‘Glorious Country’.
4. Since 2018 the mass games have returned annually under the following names;
5. The first night of the mass games is often attended by the leadership. On this night, if Kim Jong Un is in attendance, it is not permitted for tourists or anyone to bring in cameras or phones, and the security is extremely strict.
6. Children are selected to take part for their talents and can be as young as 5 years old. For many, it’s an honour to be selected to be part of the Mass Games, but the training can be gruelling. In 2003 Koryo Tours followed two young gymnasts and their families for over eight months in the lead up to the Mass Games to produce the film ‘State of Mind’.
7. Students selected are chosen from 8 different schools in Pyongyang, and each have their own colour to represent them.
8. In 2019 the People’s Country mass games were paused for a few weeks following criticism from Kim Jong Un on the content of the games after he viewed it on the first night. The games returned a few weeks later and new additional dance sections were added and some sections taken away. You can see video clips from the 2019 People’s Country Original Mass Games here.
9. In 2007 the mass games won the Guinness Book of World Records title of biggest gymnastics display in the world.
10. In the same year (2007), the first South Korean President attended the mass games, Roh Moo-Hyun.
11. In 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended the Glorious Country mass games with Kim Jong Un. He also addressed the crowd of 150,000 spectators.
12. The mass games are performed in the May Day Stadium; the world’s largest stadium by seat capacity.
13. The infamous moving picture backdrop is made up of 20,000-30,000 students holding up different coloured cards.
14. Mass games are not unique to North Korea but instead have previously been performed in other countries such as Germany, Romania, Japan, and Bulgaria. However, North Korea is the only country you can see the mass games today.
More on the North Korea Mass Games
Koryo Tours’ A State of Mind and the Mass Games
The Mass Games and Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium
A Short History of Mass Gymnastics
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