Mass games or mass gymnastics are a form of performing arts or
gymnastics in which large numbers of performers take part in a highly
regimented performance that emphasizes group dynamics rather than
1 North Korea
3 Current performances
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Mass games are now performed only in the
Rungnado May Day Stadium
Rungnado May Day Stadium (the
highest capacity stadium in the world) but in the '90s there were mass
games held at the
Kim Il-sung Stadium. 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. Students
practiced every day from January onwards. The 90 minute performance is
held every evening at 7pm and features 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.
According to Kim Jong-il, the philosophy behind the events was that:
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
— Kim Jong Il, On Further Developing Mass Gymnastics.
Talk to mass
Gymnastics Producers. April 11th 1987
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn developed an efficient gymnastics
method called Massenturnen. For propagating Massenturnen, Germany
started Massenturnen show (de:Deutsches Turnfest).
Mass games developed alongside 19th century nationalist movements,
particularly the Czech
Sokol movement. Participants were factory
workers brought in by Party Secretaries.
In Japan, schools adopted German gymnastics and mass games were
started. Since 1925, mass games were played in Meiji Jingū Kyōgi
Taikai (Meiji Shrine Sports Competition).
In Romania, the communist government organized compulsory mass games
after Communist Party leader
Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife had
visited China and saw such games there. These were the hardest working
days of the year since every individual was required to participate
along with his fellow workers. Being late on this day or not shouting
the party leader's name loudly enough would lead to being reported by
fellow workers and to prosecutors.
In Bulgaria, mass games were occasionally held during the Zname na
mira ("Flag of Peace") international youth festivals. However,
Bulgaria did not have a tradition of mass games, and performances were
Today, mass games are regularly performed only in North Korea, where
they take place to celebrate national holidays such as the birthdays
Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. In recent years, they have been
the main attraction of the
Arirang Festival in Pyongyang. The 2004
documentary film by VeryMuchSo Productions and Koryo Tours A State of
Mind details the training of two young girls from
perform in the mass games.
Arirang mass games were first performed in 2002 in Pyongyang's May Day
Stadium and have been held every year since - between August and
October and on one occasion in Spring. The show was on 4 times a week.
Tourists from all over the World were welcomed to the DPRK during Mass
Sokol organization for Czech and other. Eastern European youth
athletic organize exposition, competition, and nationalist identity
building event organized called Slet. The word slet means 'a
gathering of falcons'. The first
Sokol slet was held in 1882 in Prague
to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Sokol
organization. Since 1994 it is held every 6 years.
It is also possible to consider the opening ceremonies of the Olympic
Games as instances of mass games.
A State of Mind
A State of Mind - UK produced documentary about child gymnasts in
training for the Mass Games
Propaganda in North Korea
"Mass Games in North Korea". Insight. Transcript. 2005-10-04.
^ "History". SOKOL USA CHICAGO GYMNASTICS. Retrieved 22 December
^ Bednar, Charles and Sivak, Paul: The Sokols and Their Endeavor.
Song Mo Kim; Song Il Thak; Chol Man Kim (2002). Mass
Korea. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House.
(Full) video clip of mass games, September 2001
Site about mass gymnastics under communism
Mass Games and
North Korea photo gallery
Professional photo series of the 2009 "Arirang" Massgames in North
Sarbatori comuniste in Deva (in Romanian)
Mass Games in North Korea
Mass Games film and specialist travel to mass games Koryo Tours is the
company that produced the film on the mass games 'A State of Mind'
video insert on this page
What is a
Arirang Mass Games North Korea
Mass Game "Arirang" (September 16, 2012) on YouTube