Arirang Mass Games

Arirang Mass Games is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest event of its kind. Arirang is a mass gymnastic and artistic performance of over 100,000 actors and actresses, students and children held in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. Scenes are created by performers using colored wardrobe and colored hand-cards and meant to capture particularly moving and dramatic moments in Korean history.

The Arirang Mass Games Performed Every Year Only in North Korea!

The Arirang Mass Games are performed only in Pyongyang, DPRK. It usually runs from August to the beginning of September. Unfortunately, the Mass Games were cancelled in 2014. See our 2015 Mass Games update

Modern Day Arirang

The Arirang Mass Games is meant to capture scenes from Korea’s modern history, beginning with the Japanese occupation, the division of the country into North and South, through to current day with the North rising as an independent nation. The story is adapted from the ancient Arirang love story about a young couple being torn apart by an evil landlord and eventually leading to the death of both the man and the woman.

Arirang Mass Games 2013

The Ancient Story of Arirang

Rirang is the name of a man loved by a girl named Songbu. They were both slaves. They promised each other that they would one day get married, but there was a conflict. Their master liked the very sweet and beautiful Songbu. One day, the master sent Rirang to a far off place on an errand, and later that night the master entered Songbu’s room. Songbu resisted. Rirang came home from his errand and was shocked to find Songbu together with their master.

Rirang misunderstood the whole situation, and out of rage killed their master. Furious and upset, Rirang decided to leave Songbu forever.

Songbu tried to explain and appealed to him not to leave her alone, but Rirang did not listen and left.

Songbu, sorrowful and grieved, decided to commit suicide. She made a song, now called “Ah Rirang!” right before she killed herself.

The text of the song, as sung in the Arirang Mass Games, is translated as:

Ah Rirang, Ah Rirang, Ah my dear Rirang.
Ah Rirang, why do you cross over the hill alone?
If you leave me and go alone.
Your feet will get tired after walking only 1 mile.

Arirang Mass Games 2013