Taking place from June to September, the games will see hundreds of thousands of locals working together to produce a display of gymnastics, dancing and martial arts performances which will symbolically depict the story of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] and its leadership.
Foreign tourists are able to attend the event at the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, the world’s largest all-seater sports arena.
The DPRK mass games began in 2002 and ran annually until 2013. Then, following a five year absence, they returned last year.
Also known as the “Arirang Festival” or “Arirang Mass Games”, the event draws from a traditional Korean folk song of the same name which tells the story of two lovers separated by a body of water or, in this case, a “cruel landlord” — the United States. In separation, their dream is to be united again. This is presented as an allegory for Korea as a whole and the prospect of reunification.
The performances cover the country’s perceived liberation by leader Kim Il Sung, its struggle against Washington and as the above suggests, its hope for the future. Analysts and scholars note that the ceremonies also embed key diplomatic messages from the country to the rest of the world, and in turn are essential to understanding the DPRK’s foreign policy goals.
The games are also an optional add-on for an extensive range of summer tours ranging through to the end of September. Both companies have noted that demand is high and tickets are liable to sell out.
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