Weekly Photo Outing

As promised in last weeks Readers Photo Submissions I’d like to introduce Akulka and welcome his excellent contribution to this weeks column.  He gives us a rare glimpse into the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea during a rare visit.  The follow up piece will run in next weeks column followed by several more in-depth submissions in the Stickman Bangkok Readers Submissions area.  I’m looking forward to them!   You can reach Akulka for questions and kudos at the following email address: argonaut942@gmail.com

At the end of September I had the rare opportunity to visit a nation distinctively different to any other on this planet, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly referred to as North Korea. Undoubtedly the highlight of my journey was my chance to see not only one, but two of the famed Mass Games, the “Grand Mass Gymnastic and Artistic Performance” the North Koreans have become experts in staging. To my mind they have rightly been called the most incredible shows on earth, with its thousands upon thousands of artists, gymnasts, acrobats, martial artists, and children on stage, performing incredible feats of showmanship perfectly in sync with each other and the music. The shows tell the compact story of the DPRK in dance, folk songs, and giddying acrobatics. They are practiced for months and performed in front of millions, making it a truly national event. The greater significance of the shows is about teaching the collective, and the discipline and surrender to it that the governance requires.

Arirang Mass Game

Both shows I attended were performed in Pyongyang’s massive May Day Stadium, the largest in the world with its standard seating capacity of 150,000.

Arirang Mass Game

In the backdrop, on the far ranks opposing the spectators, 20,000 students hold large colored cards forming gigantic animated murals depicting scenes corresponding to the themes presented on the main show floor. The transitions are always perfectly fluent and concise.

Prosper the Motherland

A couple of thousand male performers dressed in blue jump suits march on stage to perform perfectly synchronized gymnastics against the backdrop of the rising sun.

Arirang Mass Game

Women dressed in colorful robes twirl to the music.

Arirang Mass Game

The beginning of the TaeKwonDo presentation, showing off Korea’s original martial art and national sport.

Prosper the Motherland

Thousands of people dressed in yellow robes depicting a grainfield swaying in the wind in against a backdrop showing the “Great Leader” and “Eternal President” (passed away in 1994) Kim Il Sung

Prosper the Motherland

Building the foundation of a strong and proud nation: The peasant, the worker, the soldier, and the intellectual.

Arirang Mass Game

A group of female performers building one of dozens symbolic formations on stage.

Prosper the Motherland

After 90 minutes of show time it’s time to wave goodbye.

Arirang Mass Game

The final moments of the show.