The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang (Chosŏn'gŭl: 아리랑 축제, Hancha: 아리랑 祝祭), also known as the Arirang Mass Games, or the Arirang Festival is a mass gymnastics and artistic festival held in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. The games usually begin in early August and end around 10 September.
|Arirang Mass Games
|Status||Irregularly held, usually held every year|
|Genre||Mass gymnastics, festival|
|Venue||Rungrado May Day Stadium|
|Location(s)||Pyongyang, North Korea|
According to the Russian News Agency "TASS", "Arirang is a gymnastics and artistic festival, known as mass games. The extravaganza unfolds an epic story of how the Arirang nation of Korea, a country of morning calm, in the Orient put an end to the history of distress and rose as a dignified nation with the song 'Arirang'. The Arirang performance has been included in the Guinness Book of Records."
The festival has been held from August until October since 2002–2005, and 2007–2013. The mass games were not held in 2006, as well as in 2014 and 2016. Contrary to popular belief, the mass festival was held in 2015. It is unknown if they will be continued at a later time.
The Mass Games possess an important ideological character praising the Workers' Party of Korea, its armed forces, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. These messages may not be clear to foreign spectators, who are not aware of North Korean iconography: a rising sun symbolizes Kim Il-sung. When a gun is shown, it signifies the gun which Kim Il-sung gave to his son Kim Jong-il. The colour red, particularly in flowers, stands for the working class, and the colour purple and red flowers represent Kim Il-sung (as the flower Kimilsungia is a purple orchid and the flower Kimjongilia is a red begonia). A snowy mountain with a lake represents Mount Paektu, where Kim Jong-il is said to have been born in a log cabin.
From as young as 5 years old, citizens are selected based on skill level to serve for the Arirang Festival for many years. In most cases this will be the way of life for them until retirement. They are students of 8 schools of Pyongyang, each of them has its own colour. These are
- 서성 Seoseong (red and yellow)
- 평천 Pyeongcheon (green and white)
- 대동강 Daedonggang (blue and yellow)
- 모란봉 Moranbong (red and white)
- 보통강 Botonggang (blue and white)
- 만경대 Mangyeongdae (red and white)
- 대성 Daeseong (blue and white)
- 락랑 Rakrang (red and yellow)
The opening event of the two-month festival are the mass games, which are famed for the huge mosaic pictures created by more than 30,000 well-trained and disciplined school children, each holding up coloured cards, in an event known in the West as a card stunt, accompanied by complex and highly choreographed group routines performed by tens of thousands of gymnasts and dancers.
In August 2007, the Arirang Mass Games were recognised by Guinness World Records as the biggest event of its kind. In recent years, foreign tourists have been allowed to watch one of the many performances.
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- Jung, Hyang Jin. "Jucheism as an Apotheosis of the Family: The Case of the Arirang Festival." Journal of Korean Religions 4.2 (2013): 93–122.
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- Leo Byrne (6 February 2014). "No Arirang Mass Games this year". NK News. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
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- Watts, Jonathan (1 October 2005). "Welcome to the strangest show on earth". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved December 2010. Check date values in:
- "North Korea halts showcase mass games due to flood". reuters. 27 August 2007. Retrieved December 2010. Check date values in:
- Kim Jong-il (August 15, 2002). The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang is a World-class Masterpiece Representative of the New Century (PDF). Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House.
- Song Mo Kim; Song Il Thak; Chol Man Kim (2002). Mass Gymnastics in Korea. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House. OCLC 499981837.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Arirang Mass Games.|
- Werner Kranwetvogel with Koryo Tours Massgames Pictures
- Steve Gong Arirang Festival, North Korea 2008
- Arirang Festival 1stopkorea.com
- Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance "Arirang" picture album at Naenara
- Mass Gymnastics in Korea picture album at Naenara
- A slide show about Arirang Festival 2012 (in German)