The Arirang Mass Games of North Korea
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 46, No. 2, December 2013
46 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 2013
Technically speaking, Arirang is a visual and acoustic artistic and gymnastics performance that takes place in a large stadium. It is said to involve 100,000 participants who either perform on stage or as “pixels” in a large “living” screen, a human canvas on which various images and slogans are shown. I look at Arirang as part of my attempts at understanding the North Korean system through the lens of its own public statements, often referred to as propaganda. I will thus not discuss the aesthetics or explore how the mass games relegate the individual to the role of a tiny piece in large machinery, how they suppress individuality and show that usefulness is only in the group. I will not try to discover parallels to Neo-Confucian ideals of loyalty and filial piety. I also regard the nationalist content of Arirang as obvious and do not present it as a finding.
Keywords: Korea (North and/or South), North Korea (politics and society), North Korea, North Korean Studies
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation