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 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.
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 2014 and were also cancelled 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.
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.
- Sport in North Korea
- 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
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- Media related to Arirang Mass Games at Wikimedia Commons
- Mass Gymnastics in Korea, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2002, Softcover, 48 pages