A journey to discover the secrets of Mass Performance Gymnastics – North Korea

A study by

LOCATION:North Korea
MATERIALS:X 24 photographs

Overview of Voyage D'etudes

Marawa is a world conquering Hoola Hoop master. She performs all over the world. Hailing from Australia, she is a circus school trained teacher and performer with the poise of a ballet dancer. She can hoop 133 hoops at the same time and has performed in Palaces for Royalty, on tv for millions and over her 10 year career has wowed crowds with her hoops on almost every continent. She also played Josephine Baker in New York for 6 months to rave reviews and has something of the formers sense of fun and onstage personality naturally, her main driving force is working with people to inject some fun and activity into their communities.

I have been obsessed with the Mass Games since forever. I love Busby Berkeley and performances or routines that involve patterns and repetition. The Mass games is performed in the May Day Stadium (highest capacity seating stadium in the world). Mass Games can basically be described as a synchronized socialist-realist spectacular, featuring over 100,000 participants in a 90 minute display of gymnastics, dance, acrobatics, and dramatic performance, accompanied by music and other effects. Students practiced every day from January onwards. The 90 minute performance is held every evening at 7pm and features the ‘largest picture in the world’ a giant mosaic of individual students each holding a book whose pages links with their neighbours’ to make up one gigantic scene. When the students turn the pages the scene or individual elements of the scene change, up to 170 pages make up one book.

This is part of the Mass Games performance

The Mass Games is North Korean festival also known as Arirang Festival. Mass games or mass gymnastics are a form of performing arts or gymnastics in which large numbers of performers take part in a highly regimented performance that emphasizes group dynamics rather than individual prowess.

The Viking. my favourite tourist to photograph – he won the trip to NK and seemed to have a great time, and the locals thought he was pretty interesting too.

One of the Many statues of the 2 Kim’s that we visited. generally laying flowers. they are REALLY serious about making sure that no one takes a photo of any statues that are not inclusive of the whole thing – ie. you MUST get all of the Kim’s in. At this statue, large bunches of flowers were being scanned by security. In a country that has prided itself on solidarity for so long it was the first time I saw something that suggested all might not be as calm as it once was.


The Mass Games is the greatest show I have ever seen. It is an incredible and exhausting example of what the human race + communism can achieve. The relentless training impressed upon the 100,000 acrobats involved is terrifying. I was in awe, sad and had maximum respect for all the kids. Its unlikely that the Mass Games will survive the ongoing changes that face North Korea – I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have been able to see it live.

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