Are Pyongyang citizens getting tired of the mass games?

Pictured Above (Google Earth): Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium (see in Google Maps here)–home of the Arirang Mass Games

UPDATE 1 (2011-8-15): According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s massive dance and gymnastics extravaganza Arirang has drawn more than 10 million spectators since it was first staged in 2002, Pyongyang’s state media reported Monday.

About 300 Arirang shows have been staged since 2002 and the number of people who watched the performance has topped the 10 million mark, including some 100,000 foreigners, Radio Pyongyang reported.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-8-5): According to the Korea Times:

A growing number of North Korean people are discontent over a widespread rumor that their regime is considering continuing a massive propaganda show for foreign tourists until 2015.

The North Korean regime had said the performance, Arirang, would end next year thus also ending the forced mobilization of hundreds of thousands of citizens as performers.

“Many people in Pyongyang are upset by the rumor that Arirang might be performed until 2015,” Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted an unidentified Chinese source who recently visited Pyongyang as saying. “They say it’s hard to understand the reason for possibly keeping the show going, which nobody watches.”

The non-profit radio station headquartered in the United States reported that many Pyongyang citizens openly criticized the regime for extending the run of the show indicating a loss in people’s confidence in the regime.

Arirang was first performed in 2000 to mark the 90th birthday of the North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung, father of the current “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.

The current version of the Mass Games, Arirang, aired first in 2002 then it took a break and resumed in 2005 (I know because I was there).  It has run annually since then with only slight modifications each year (CNC, China friendship, etc).

While most coverage of the mass games focuses on the ideological conditioning of the performers and the audience, I believe their true value to  the leadership is much more practical: Arirang training keeps the youth of Pyongyang occupied in group activities for extended periods of time.  There are few physical resources in the DPRK with which to urban children may be occupied during the summer, and idel hands are the devils workshop! 🙂

Read the full story here:
N. Koreans unhappy with Arirang show
Korea Times
Park Si-soo
2011-8-5

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