We’ve just had some (potentially) very exciting news come in from our partners in Pyongyang, DPRK (North Korea). The Arirang Mass Games might be returning to the tourist calendar on September 9th to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the official date in some ways that led to the current partitioning of the country.
Our current understanding is that if confirmed, the show on the 9th September would be for dignitaries, and higher-ranking officials only (not tourists). Tourists would be allowed to attend from the middle, until the end of September, although our past experience leads us to believe this could potentially be extended.
So what is Arirang, and the mass games? Arirang is probably the most famous Korean folk song, showing the fateful tale of two lovers. The song is sung equally in both the north, and south, and can be considered the unofficial anthem of a united Korea.
As for the mass games? Well that is a very North Korean affair, being carried out on off since the country’s establishment in 1948. Its shares many characteristics with similar events held in the old USSR, and former Eastern Bloc.
The games, which are more like a show are held in the world’s biggest stadium – the May Day Stadium, a place rarely used for sport, and generally considered the showcase for this very special event.
Part of the allure is the thousands of students holding placards that change periodically producing perfect synchronized choreography to show the images as the story unfolds.
The story itself, whilst loosely based on Arirang is more about showing not only the history of North Korea, but also its current political message (whatever that will be).
As you will see from some of our photos this truly is one of the most famous, and spectacular events in the world. If indeed it does come to pass, and it is held to mark the national day in North Korea, then we will certainly be arranging groups to take part in this extravaganza!
So whilst it is yet to be fully confirmed (stay tuned for further announcements), check out the following itineraries that would fit snugly into the expected calendar.