You know that feeling when Spring has officially sprung, summer is only one month away and the weather is absolutely glorious? That’s May Day in North Korea. Which, after the cold winter months is extremely welcomed by everyone. As a result, May Day is a packed day of outdoor activities and there’s a particular energy and excitement in the air.
We usually start by heading to Mt. Taesong in Pyongyang, an area filled with amusement rides, families and friends picnicking, musical performances and locals playing games such as volleyball and other competitive games. What is surprising to many travellers is the amount of autonomy while we’re here, as the group splits up and spends the afternoon however they like (…“So, wait, what?! You mean we can go off, do anything and meet here in an hour…by ourselves?!”) If you’re prepared with some Korean phrases and ready with a smile, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be invited to join a picnicking group of welcoming locals out for the holiday (a ‘chukbae!’ (cheers) offering of soju always goes a long way too) or go head to head in an overly-competitive potato sack race.
After Mt Taesong, it’s off to Moran Hill for more dancing and celebrating, before racing off to one of the many mass dances happening around the city and special arts events such as the absolutely incredible Pyongyang Acrobatic Circus or National Symphonic Orchestra.
I particularly like the feeling of May Day because it’s also one of the few national holidays connecting North Korea to the rest of the world and other countries celebrating May Day, or, International Workers Day. To me, it’s an example of how we’re all not that so dissimilar from each other.