Practice makes perfect!
If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution. - Attributed to Emma Goldman
Visit North Korea during a holiday or important anniversary and one is likely to find oneself at a public mass dance put on by students — the North Korean Mass Dance.
These large choreographed dances, accompanied by blasting revolutionary and folk music, take place at various locations around the city and can include from a few hundred to more than a thousand participants, weather permitting, of course.
In Pyongyang these rallies can occur at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, Monument to Party Founding, the Juche Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Grand People's Theatre, and Kim Il Sung Square. Mass dances also occur in other cities, such as Kaesong and Wonsan, in public squares.
Foreign visitors are often encouraged, or peer-pressured depending on one's own confidence in their own coordination and dance skills, to join in with the students, moving hand-in-hand or matched pairs in concentric circles.
Most people get by, missing a step or wave here and there, goofing up the direction of the dancers, or breaking up a would-be romantic couple (it is said, the mass dance is a good place for young romantics to meet a significant other). But is the mass dance easy enough to master on the spot? And does every Korean student master it with regular group practice? Apparently not.
And that is why there is an instructional DVD to provide some extra help for those who need some at home practice or review. The version below is from 2014 and runs 20 1/2 minutes in length. Filmed in what appears to be an indoor banquet hall, it features a group of men and women, dressed in formal attire demonstrating the various steps and moves to different Korean songs. The titles at the start of each section refer to the type of dance employed, for instance "slow 3-step dance" and not the name of the song.
Want to see or take part in a mass dance? Book a Koryo Tours' group tour or independent private tour over a North Korean holiday such as the 'Day of the Sun' (Birthday of President Kim Il Sung on 15 April), Liberation Day (15 August), National Day (09 September), and more!
For more information on all there is to see in North Korea, download our free 75-page guide to the country. Follow the Koryo Tours Blog for regular in-depth posts on specific attractions in North Korea.
Updated 30 December 2018
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