North Korea: Mass Games

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This is probably one of the most amazing performances (of anything) that I have ever seen. I’m afraid my pictures just can’t do it justice.

The logistics of the whole event don’t bear thinking about. Firstly the May Day Stadium itself is the largest sports stadium in the world with 150, 000 seats.

The performance has two key elements. The first is the gymnastic performers. In the 90 minute performance there are anywhere between 80,000 and 100, 000 performers depending on which piece of literature you read. They come out in waves of thousands and perform extremely complicated gymnastic routines in perfect syncronisation. The idea of mass gymnastics is to emphasise group achievements rather than that of the individual.

The second key element is the backdrop. This takes up one whole side of the stadium and is made up of school children holding large books with different coloured pages which make up a huge mosaic. The children turn the pages to make up huge pictures. There are around 12,000 card turners aged between 13 and 15.

This page shows some particularly fine examples of the performances.

The backdrops were amazingly detailed and even moved. Watching the card turners warm up when we walked into the stadium was intimidating. The mosaic was divided up into the different districts the children represented. At the given signal each district changed the pages in there card book while shouting.

One of my tour group commented that he found the Mass Games more exciting than the birth of his first born son.

Unfortunately I didn’t see Lionel anywhere at the performance which was a terrible shame. His ticket must have got lost somehow.

Rungnado May Day Stadium Wikipedia / Google Maps / World Stadiums

James Mullarkey

I write about the web and digital, mediocre sporting performances and places I've been, for this blog and only this blog.