This year, the Mass Games officially returned to North Korea, and wow did they come with a bang! The new theme “Glorious Country”, depending on how you translate it replaced the previous incarnation of “Arirang”. Arirang was good, but this was better with LED lights and lots of other jazz to help it to continue its claim to be the best show on earth!
Here’s our top ten facts on the mass games!
1) Arirang was just the theme! People think of the mass games and Arirang as being synonymous but in fact North Korea have been doing Mass Games performances since 1948! With the last incarnation using the famous folk song of Arirang as the theme. This is why many people think they are one and the same.
2) The Arirang theme was performed from 2002 – 2005 and from 2007 – 2013, before its return in 2018 as Glorious Fatherland.
3) The 2018 Mass Games changed from Arirang to the theme of Glorious Fatherland to represent the progress of the DPRK.
4) In 2007, they got themselves in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest gymnastics display in the world with 109,000 participants.
5) Despite being called the “Mass Games”, it is not actually sporting in nature and could better be described as more like a theatrical performance that incorporates gymnastics. This is represented in its 90-minute performance usually starting at 7 pm.
6) The Mass Games is traditionally in the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, which is the largest capacity stadium in the world! In North Korea, size matters.
7) Citizens from the age of 5 are selected on ability and they start training from January to be ready for the performances in August/September.
8) If you happen to be hanging out in Kim II Sung square and see markings on the floor, this is not some crazy military thing, but is related to when children practice for the mass games in the square.
9) There are up to 20,000 students in the background creating a living backdrop with colored cards that changes throughout the performance. Their books can have as many as 170 images in them and the whole thing is done impeccably!
10) It is quite rare for the leaders of the country to attend all that often but those lucky enough to have joined our National Day Tour got to witness Marshall Kim Jong Un at the performance which certainly added to the atmosphere somewhat!
So that’s our top ten facts about the Mass Games in North Korea. The Mass Games are back for 2019! For a full listing of tours please click here.