If two of the main hobbies in your life are football and North Korea, it is impossible to ignore the colossus that is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium – or as the cool kids call it, The May Day Stadium. Not only is it a very prominent part of the Pyongyang skyline, but it is the world’s largest stadium by far. Say what you like about North Korea, but they do not do things by half!
Here’s our guide to the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang!
When is the May Day Stadium used?
Most football matches are held at the Kim Il Sung Stadium, but some have been known to be held at the May Day Stadium, as well as the odd athletics event. The main use, though, is for the Mass Games – an event that has returned for 2019 under the ‘Glorious Fatherland’ banner.
Design of the May Day Stadium
It features 16 arches arranged in a ring, and is designed to look like a Magnolia. It’s surrounded by an epically huge parking area, which is crazy after watching the Mass Games.
History of the May Day Stadium
After Seoul was awarded the 1988 Olympics, the DPRK was granted the right to host the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, which you can read more about here. The May Stadium, as well as the infamous Ryugyong Hotel, were built as part of this event. At the time of its construction it was the biggest stadium ever built in Asia.
The first “big” event held here was in 1995, with the “Collision in Korea” wrestling event, which at the time was the largest pay per view wrestling event jointly held by Japan Pro-Wrestling, and World Championship Wrestling (which later merged into WWE).
Of course, the most famous events to happen at the May Day Stadium are the Mass Games, with the Arirang Festival being held here between 2002 – 2013. In 20007 the Arirang Mass Games made it into the Guinness Book of World Records when 100.090 participants took part in the event.
After the end of the Arirang Mass Games, the stadium underwent 2 years of renovation, re-opening in 2015. In 2018 the Mass Games returned with Glorious Fatherland, and coincided with the Inter-Korea summit which resulted in President Moon Jae-In giving an unprecedented speech to 150,000 citizens of the DPRK.
Can you visit the May Day Stadium?
The best ways to visit the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang are to see the Glorious Fatherland Mass Games, or to see one of the rare football games held at the stadium. Alternatively, it is possible to arrange a private tour as part of an independent group to North Korea.
For more information about the history of the Mass Games check out this link..