The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang (Chosŏn'gŭl: 아리랑 축제, Hancha: 아리랑 祝祭) are held in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. The gymnastics and artistic festival, known as mass games, begins in early August and ends around September 10th. According to the DPRK publication "Arirang" this particular mass games celebrates the story of North Korea "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". Arirang is a Korean folk story about a young couple being torn apart by an evil landlord and hence represents the division of Korea.
The festival has been held from August until October since 2002-2005, and 2007 until the present.
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.
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.
World record 
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.
See also 
- A State of Mind - UK produced documentary (VeryMuchSo productions and Koryo Tours) about child gymnasts in training for the Mass Games
- Propaganda in North Korea
- Tourism in North Korea
- "human billboard paintings at north korea mass games". Design Boom. Retrieved 9 December, 2012.
- Watts, Jonathan (Saturday 1 October 2005). "Welcome to the strangest show on earth". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved December 2010.
- "North Korea halts showcase mass games due to flood". reuters. Mon Aug 27, 2007. Retrieved December 2010.
- Werner Kranwetvogel with Koryo Tours Massgames Pictures
- Steve Gong Arirang Festival, North Korea 2008
- Arirang Festival 1stopkorea.com
Further reading 
- Mass Gymnastics in Korea, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2002, Softcover, 48 pages