Arirang Mass Games

A State of Mind – North Korean Film Review

The documentary A State of Mind broke ground in 2003 as the first western production to be allowed unrestricted access into Pyongyang, filming in the homes of friends Pak Hyon Sun (age 13) and Kim Song Yun (age 11), and showing insights into their daily life as they trained for gymnastics performances in a run of mass games.

Their determined preparation leading to the film’s “socialist realist extravaganza” mass games finale is fascinating, but I more enjoyed the peeks into the girl’s daily lives: attempts to ditch homework, delight as one girl inherits a room when an older sister joins the army, and a father complaining about his house full of chatty woman.

The filmmakers successfully present a non judgmental viewpoint, but there is no mistaking the reality of a people’s collectivist mindset. Sacrifice of individuality to the needs of the state is the film’s major theme – which is precisely what the mass game and other mass events aim to be the ultimate representation of.

Filmed a decade ago, this is not the DPRK I am firsthand familiar with, but I still love this documentary and consider it required viewing for anyone with an interest in the country. I personally know the director, and although I haven’t met the girls from the film, I have seen behind the scenes photos of them from the production, making this extra special film for me.

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You can find A State of Mind on Amazon.com.


Chinese National Day Tour

Chinese National Day Tour – September 30th – October 8th

My plans have changed; instead of a Rason trip I’m now being sent in to guide the finale of the Arirang Mass Games for Young Pioneer Tour’s Chinese National Day Tour.

DSC07860

Still time to arrange a visa to see the final Arirang Mass Games: €1195 – 7 days in DPRK, Train/Flight In, Train Out (Flight out +€120) Dandong option €795

Pyongyang – Kaesong – Sariwon – Nampo


Last Chance to see the Arirang Mass Games?

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

2011 Arirang Mass Games – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

From my contacts at Koryo Tours:  Word from our sources in Pyongyang is that the Arirang Mass Games of 2012 will be the last – so we suggest you sign up now to ensure that you can see this remarkable event while it is still running.

While mass games have been performed since the 1940s in the DPRK the Arirang show is the largest and most impressive they have ever produced.  Born in 2002, since 2007 it has been an annual event, but 2012 will be Arirang’s 10th anniversary, and it seems the powers that be have decided to close the curtain.  As for the reason, our Korean partners suggest that the narrative needs to change with the times.  Combining dance, gymnastics, propaganda, politics, music, and even unicycling, this spectacular performance chronicles the struggles of the Korean people suffering under Japanese occupation, moving into the independent era and building a modern country – basically the period linked to the first 100 years since the birth of North Korea’s Eternal President Kim Il Sung.

However, since 2013 marks the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the republic (Sept 9th) as well as the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War (July 27th), organizers are reportedly planning a whole new performance for next year.

So if you haven’t seen Arirang yet, or if you want to see it one last time, this is your chance.  Don’t miss out on the biggest performance in the world – an event that makes any Olympic opening ceremony look like a school play!  Staged at the massive May Day stadium in Pyongyang, Arirang is running from August 1st to September 9th, 2012, but as with the last few years we do expect an extension, perhaps as far as the middle of October (usually it finally ends around Oct 17th).

Don’t miss the Arirang Mass Games!  Tell us a little about yourself, and I will hook you up with a great DPRK travel deal for visiting!


Arirang Mass Games 2012 Dates Confirmed!

Mass Games North Korea

2011 Arirang Mass Games – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

From my contacts at Koryo Tours: We have just been informed that North Korea’s spectacular Arirang Mass Games will be taking place once again this year. The officially confirmed dates so far are from August 1st – September 9th (Sept 9th is DPRK’s National Day, a major holiday in North Korea) but we do expect the dates to be extended as it is normal for the initial confirmed run of the Mass Games to be this long, the event often finishes as late as mid-October, we will of course keep you updated!

If you’ve ever wanted to see 100,000 performers in a 90 minute spectacular combination of gymnastics, propaganda, dance, music, and of course unicycling all with the backdrop of the world’s largest screen – one made up of 20,000 schoolchildren flipping coloured cards to create an ever-shifting display unrivaled anywhere else in the world – then this is the event for you. Truly unforgettable and awe-inspiring, book now for something that will not be easily forgotten!

All tours that take place in this period can see the Mass Games, the event takes place in the evening and so is easily fitted to any tour schedule. The Mass games will run 5 times a week (on Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat) so plenty of opportunities for you to attend, you can even go more than once on a tour if you so desire!


Mass Gymnastics Post #2

North Korean girls perform mass gymnastics at the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Mass Games

Mass Games

Mass Games

Mass Games

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Mass Games

Mass Games


Happy Valentine’s Day

Mass Games North Korea

Arirang Mass Games, Pyongyang, DPRK, North Korea.


Beauty and Grace at the Arirang Mass Games

It’s not all about high kicking sexy military girls and mass flip card human mosaics at the North Korean Arirang Mass Games; experience the more delicate side of the games with the following set of photos showcasing the beauty and grace of North Korean women in their traditional Korean chosŏn-ot dresses.

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea


Dancing Maidens at the Arirang Mass Games

Young North Korean maidens dancing in an orchard……

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

and then the nightmare begins!


Mass Gymnastics

North Korean girls perform mass gymnastics at the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea1

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea


Eric Lafforgue’s North Korea

With multiple visits under his belt, and with an Arirang Mass Games photo gracing the cover of National Geographic Magazine, Eric Lafforgue is the world’s photography authority on North Korea. It was the discovery of his work just over a year ago that inspired me to learn digital photography and to pursue travel and street photography. Eric not only works his craft in North Korea, his award winning photos cover the most inaccessible parts of Africa, Asia, and beyond. Be sure to check them out at his Flickr page!

Kim - North Korea DPRK 북한

She’s called Kim i Sim – photo by Eric Lafforgue.  The photo that cemented my obsession with North Korea and fueled my ambition to become a better photographer.

Several photo story series by Eric Lafforgue:

USA? No, North Korea!

The Dear Leaders are watching you – North Korea  

Unknown North Korea  

Through the lens of a master – a set of Arirang Mass Games photos by Eric Lafforgue.

Arirang Mass Games in May Day stadium Pyongyang- North Korea

Sexy army in Arirang Mass Games in May Day stadium Pyongyang- North Korea

Arirang mass games in Pyongyang - North Korea

Arirang mass games in Pyongyang - North Korea

Kids in Arirang Mass Games in May Day stadium Pyongyang- North Korea

Kids at Arirang Mass Games in May Day stadium Pyongyang- North Korea

I want to thank Eric for personally giving me his permission to post his photos on this blog!


Nightmarishly Strange Mass Games

Dancing chickens, cows, sheep, and even a giant pig – a nightmarishly weird boasting of agriculture and animal husbandry power and success during the North Korean Arirang Mass Games.

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea


Sexy Soldier Girl Monday

Starting the week off right with the sexy soldier girls of the North Korean Arirang Mass Games.

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea


April 12th 2011 North Korea Trip

I’m looking for a few good people to help fill a VIP custom trip to North Korea.  This is the big one, April 15th is the 100th birthday of the Eternal President Kim Il Sung, and I plan to be there for all the celebrations!  Also included on the trip will be first time ever visits to heavy industry sites, and to Pujon, a mysterious location deep in the interior of the country.

We are looking at around 2,000 Euro for the trip + China double entry visa + flight to Beijing.  You will be traveling with an exclusive group, so contact me so I can get to know you (so I can screen you) – visas into the country will be tight at this time, so we need to have applications in by Jan.

Check out the proposed itinerary below:

Children of North Korea

Hello from North Korea!

Thurs 12th April

Flight to Pyongyang (departs Beijing Airport Terminal 2) 14:00. Arrive Pyongyang, meet guides, transfer to hotel via Arch of Triumph. Dinner at hotel. Potonggang Hotel, Pyongyang.

Fri 13th

Pyongyang Metro (6 stations), Mansudae Art Studio, Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, Drive to Nampo, Chollima Steel Works, Tae’an Heavy Machine Tool Complex, Tae’an Glass Factory. Hot Spa Resort, Nampo.

Sat 14th

West Sea Barrage, Nampo Taekwondo School, return to Pyongyang via Mt Ryonggak for picnic lunch, Shooting Range, Juche Tower, Pyongyang Film Studios, Paradise Department Store and Microbrewery, Kaeson funfair after dinner. Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang.

Sun 15th
100th birthday of President Kim Il Sung: Exact nature of events to be confirmed but should include visit to Kumsusan Memorial Palace (Mausoleum of President), Kimilsungia Flower Exhibition, Mansudae Grand Monument, Mangyongdae Funfair, walk in Moranbong Park (where locals go to enjoy their day off), expected mass dance, other celebratory events, MASS GAMES.

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Aririang Mass Games

Mon 16th

Drive to Wonsan (4 hrs with breaks), lunch at Dongmyong Hotel. Songdowon Schoolchildren’s Camp, walk in central square and around docks. Evening walk along pier (EUR 1 entry). Dongmyong Hotel, Wonsan.

Tues 17th

Drive to Hamhung (approx 3 hours) via Wonsan Agricultural University and Tongbong Cooperative Farm, lunch in Hamhung, Kim Il Sung Statue and central park, Native House of Ri Song Gye, drive past Hungnam Fertiliser Factory and Vinalon Factory (not possible to visit but can ask driver to go slowly and take photos from bus), relaxing on beach at Majon Guesthouse. Majon Guesthouse.

Weds 18th

Drive to Pujon county deep in the North Korean interior, see stunning mountain scenery and the rural way of life, picnic lunch. Ascend to the top of North Korea’s second highest mountains for an unparalleled view of somewhere that nobody you know has ever laid eyes on, See the spectacular Stone River where thousands of giant boulders form a cascade down the hillside. DPRK’s famous ‘slogan trees’ can also be seen here. Return to Hamhung. Sinhungsan Hotel, Hamhung.

Thurs 19th

Very early departure to return to Pyongyang. Arrive Pyongyang late afternoon, School Children’s Palace Tour and performance (if time allows). Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang.

Fri 20th

Drive to Mt Myohyang (2 hrs), International Friendship Exhibition, Pohyon Buddhist Temple, walking in area (can have picnic lunch – for surcharges see below – or just lunch in hotel) Return to Pyongyang, Museum of Metro Construction, Farewell dinner at Duck BBQ restaurant. Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang.

North Korean Guide Ms Yu and Gabriel at the BBQ Duck Restaurant

Farewell dinner at Duck BBQ restaurant

Sat 21st
Transfer to airport for flight JS151 to Beijing. 08:55 departure, arrive Beijing approx 10:00. End of tour.


More Sexy North Korean Sailor Girls

If you plan to kick the American capitalist devils and their lackey running dogs in the ass, than you might as will do it with style, grace, and with a great pair of legs! The sexy sailor girls of North Korea marching in the rain at Arirang Mass Games, Pyongyang, DPRK.

Sexy Sailor Girls

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Sexy Sailor Girls

Sexy Sailor Girls

The sexy sailor girls of North Korea marching in the rain at Arirang Mass Games, Pyongyang, DPRK – posted for no other reason except that I love sexy sailor girls!