What are Mass Games?....in a nutshell:
Mass Games can basically be described as a synchronized socialist-realist spectacular, featuring over 100,000 participants in a 90 minute display of gymnastics, dance, acrobatics, and dramatic performance, accompanied by music and other effects, all wrapped in a highly politicized package. Literally no other place on Earth has anything comparable and it has to be seen with your own two eyes to truly appreciate the scale on display.
The Mass Games organisers state that 'Juche orientated mass gymnastics of Korea originated from Flower Gymnastics, a work by President Kim Il Sung created in 1930, the early days of his anti Japanese revolutionary struggles'. 1961 marked the fist truly Korean style Mass Gymnastics piece with the catchy title of 'The Era of the Workers' Party'. Today, Mass Gymnastics represents 'the ideological theme of the history of the country and nation splendidly through combination of gymnastic formations, backdrops involving tens of thousands of people and music'. The games is not merely a visual spectacular, through the training and performance of the games 'the ideological theme promotes social development and it trains not only the people's physiques but also their spiritual power'.
Unlike a sports competition, where the athletes compete for a prize, the mass gymnastics of Korea brings 'pleasure and satisfaction to the performers as well as to the audience and instills in their hearts hope for the future'.
As Leader Kim Jong Il pointed out in a meeting with the mass gymnastics organisers in 1987 'the Korean style of mass gymnastics is a mixed form of comprehensive physical exercises with a combination of high ideological content, artistic quality and gymnastics skill'.
Preparations are visible on the streets of Pyongyang well in advance of the Mass Games with tens of thousands of gymnasts preparing their routines in the city’s open spaces and parks. The 2009 performance will be entitled 'Arirang' based on a historic tragic love story but will be adapted to represent the struggle of North Korea during the Japanese occupation and Korean War. Students have been practicing every day since January. The 90 minute performance which will be held every evening at 7pm will feature the 'largest picture in the world' a giant mosaic of individual students each holding a book whose pages links with their neighbours’ to make up one gigantic scene. When the students turn the pages the scene or individual elements of the scene change, up to 170 pages make up one book.
In 2003 we made our film on the Mass Games 'A State of Mind' (Koryo Tours, VeryMuchSo productions and BBC4), The film has been broadcast unedited in both North and South Korea and in 2004 won the Pyongyang Film Festival Special Prize and best film music award as well as various international awards and is currently on worldwide release.
'Developing mass gymnastics is important in training children to be fully developed communist people, to be fully developed communist man, one must acquire a revolutionary ideology, the knowledge of many fields, rich cultural attainments and a healthy and strong physique. These are the basic qualities required of a man of the communist type. Mass gymnastics play an important role in training schoolchildren to acquire these communist qualities. Mass gymnastics foster particularly healthy and strong physiques, a high degree of organization, discipline and collectivism in schoolchildren, The schoolchildren, conscious that a single slip in their action may spoil their mass gymnastic performance, make every effort to subordinate all their thoughts and actions to the collective.'
On Further Developing Mass Gymnastics. Talk to mass Gymnastics Producers. April 11th 1987 Kim Jong Il
Guide to seating at the mass games performance and ticket prices:
Tickets are purchased on the spot in Pyongyang, please do not send money to us in advance. Tickets can also be purchased in US Dollars and Chinese RMB.