|Pyongyang's May Day Stadium, Home of Arirang|
Over the course of 90 minutes, the show tells the history of North Korea (and in recent years, of it's friendship with China) in five acts. It is set to the famed Korean song 'Arirang' which tells the story of two lovers forced to separate by war. The song is lovely and haunting and is used throughout the show as a metaphor for the tragic division of Korea into two separate countries. On the whole, the show is replete with political iconography and rich in traditional Korean and North Korean symbols. If anything, this makes it even more interesting as a demonstration of how the party wants itself and it's history to be viewed.
Everything about the display is astounding. The sheer number of people involved, their perfect synchronicity, and the wonderful choreography made me want it to never end. Perhaps even more amazing than the performers on the ground, are the 30,000 some-odd well trained school children sitting in the stands behind holding coloured cards which they change with perfect timing in order to create the backgrounds for the scenes. Performers practice for months in advance and the show is usually nearly sold out (both to foreign tourists paying anywhere from 80-300EUR and to locals and other DPRK citizens who can attend for much much less) for the entirety of it's 2-3 month run. It is not unheard of for extra shows to be added.
|Pre-show warm up for the card flippers. This also involved the shouting of slogans.|
|Proof that they are actually people! The standard bearers which act as the pre-show curtain have now also entered the field.|
|Act 1. The People of Arirang. Note the background, it's Kim Il-sung's purported birthplace, Mangyongdae|
|The story of Arirang|
|Paekdu and the ascension of Kim Il-sung|
|Celebrating the Juche philosophy.|
|Act 2. The Military First Celebration.|
|A lovely Kimjongilia. (Yes, it exits! Just look it up! Kimilsungias exist too!)|
|Act 3. The Happiness of Arirang. These kids were amazing!|
|Apples! Celebrating the country's new apple orchards.|
|The party symbol.|
|Act 4. Reunification Arirang. Celebrating the dream of all Korean people.|
|Act 5. The China Friendship Arirang.|