UPDATE 1 (2013-3-11): Koryo Tours reports that the mass games will take place this year…and it will be “Arirang” themed. The DPRK had earlier reported that Arirang had been consigned to history. So it appears that management of the mass games is handled in much the same way as the management of economic policy. Here is what the Koryo Tours email had to say:
Today, Koryo Tours received confirmation of the mass games dates for this year. They are scheduled to run from JULY 22nd to SEPTEMBER 9th. These dates incorporate two of the biggest holidays in the DPRK this year – the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War on 27th July (Victory Day) and the 65th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK on September 9th (National Day) .
Despite claims last year that 2012 would be the last ever Arirang-themed performance, it seems that this is not the case and this year the theme will again be Arirang but we expect to see new scenes added in to make it bigger and better than ever before.
ORIGINAL POST (2012-7-11): I have relocated to the DC area and have begun clearing out the backlog of posts and emails. I should be caught up by the end of the week.
This morning, however, I wanted to point out a marketing email sent out by 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), organisers are reportedly planning a whole new performance for next year – for more news on this, please stay on our mailing list!
So if you haven’t seen Arirang yet, or if you want to see it one last time, this is your chance.
Koryo Tours is also repeating its Ultimate Frisbee Tour and Pyongyang’s first ever DJ set! Email them at email@example.com if you are interested.