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Name: Melissa

About Me

Countries Visited (not including Turnarounds): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, North Korea, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vatican City

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Sunday, September 09, 2012
Since I saw the documentary "A State of Mind" it has been a life goal of mine to watch the Arirang mass games in person, so when I booked the tour I made sure to include it in the itinerary. At the pre-tour briefing in Beijing, our tour leader Simon said to us "You will forget your children's names before you forget the Mass Games." and now that I have seen it with my very own eyes I am inclined to believe him. In total honesty, seeing the Mass Games was one of the best 90 minutes of my life. If you haven't seen this documentary I highly encourage you to do so as whilst the Games footage is beautiful to look at it is the interviews with the performers that are the most fascinating.

The skill level of the performers is absolutely jaw dropping. Considering the London Opening Ceremony was on about 1.5 weeks before I left for Beijing/Pyongyang, then seeing kids as young as 5 doing all sorts of tumbling, skipping, human pyramid stacking, plus seeing those performing the card stunt change to every scene without a (noticeable) mistake, it made the Olympics look completely amateur. Apparently there's 100,000 performers in the Mass Games, training since February, and there's 30,000 performers responsible for the card stunt alone.

I'm going to have to apologise in advance, this is going to be a very photo heavy post. 

The RĊ­ngrado May Day Stadium, where the games are held. This is also apparently the largest stadium in the world, by capacity.

 When we arrived at the May Day Stadium, the performers were just finishing off their rehearsals. Aside from the performance itself, I will certainly never forget the thrill of hearing the 'war cry' the performers shouted every time the cards changed scene, which was very audible from outside the stadium. No one could wipe the smile from our faces at that point - we knew we were about to see something spectacular, something we were never going to see outside this country ever again.

Throughout the show there were sky blue flags being held up - these were used to 'shield' the acts waiting for the scene to begin or end from the audience.

I am still absolutely dumbfounded as to how they managed to create the scenes, particularly the 'sunset' with the sun illuminated. I don't think they had light up cards.

Patriotism well and truly on show...

I quite enjoyed seeing these ladies and their twirling skills. Very chipper, and their skirts are pretty short for a normally conservative army uniform.

The magnolia, meant to represent Kim Il Sung.

These kids were super cute - they ran onto the field and waved at us with the adorable laughs of 5000-odd 5 year olds. Then they start doing tumbles and flips of superhuman skills and you're just left with your jaw on the floor.

Even Air Koryo made it into the Mass Games

This was pretty confusing to me. I think it was to celebrate hydroelectric power, or a dam, or I could be completely wrong.

This was clearly a celebration of the produce trade that the DPRK are known for. Pretty much every meal I ate there ended with a dessert of sliced apples.

Loving the cow and sheep heads here.

The freakiest sheep's head you've ever seen.

Bunnies and chicks? If I didn't know better I'd say they were celebrating Easter. But surely that isn't the case...

So seeing these kids perform the stunts they did just made the recent Olympics look totally amateur.

Taekwando in the mass games? Of course!!!

This cabin scene and the sunset scene were my two favorites of the night.

There were also some pretty decent air stunts. Cirque du Soleil eat your heat out.

The Mass Games were a perfect opportunity to reinforce the reunification message.

And what better way to promote China-DPRK relations than to incorporate their friends into the Mass Games? Dragon dances and Panda costumes included, just in case the message was a bit lost.

Coming up to the finale...

And no good performance can end unless there's fireworks!