North Korea always seems to find a way into the news, and lately it has been no different with tensions on the rise as a result of the South Korean patrol boat Cheonan sinking earlier this year, and South Korea’s and the United States’ joint military exercise. Regardless, this week North Korea began the two-month long Arirang Festival and Mass Games in Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium.
North Korea started the games in 2002 to celebrate the 90th birthday of Kim Il-Sung.
The Mass Games provide a platform to showcase highly regimented performances focusing on the larger group rather than the individual.
We’re not going to advocate a trip to North Korea with tensions high, but for those with enough curiosity to visit the reclusive North, the spectacle of the Mass Games is the major draw of the “tourist” season. Last year’s festival drew about 1.4 million people, though we’re not sure if that includes the 120,000 performers. For Americans, earlier this year North Korea lifted some travel restrictions, but potential visitors should be cautioned that things could always change at the drop of a hat.
VBS.tv produced a fantastic series about North Korea called the “Vice guide to North Korea” with part three of the series featuring the Mass Games.