North Korea’s Impressive And Devastating “Mass Games”

Published January 25, 2014
Updated November 9, 2023

Formally known as the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, North Korea is a subject of fascination the world over as it’s one of the few countries that can accurately be described as an Orwellian state. Though technically governed by a modern democratic constitution, the government is run by a paranoid monarchy, revolving around a dynastic cult of personality. Food is scant, electricity is rationed, and offenses as minor as referring to the current or former leaders without their proper title can land people—even children—in a labor camp for life.

Mass Games 2012 Finale

Source: Juche Songun

Since 1946, North Korea has staged The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance, often simply referred to as the Mass Games. The festival starts around July 27th, the day North Korea celebrates the armistice (as a victory, no less) and lasts until early September.

Mass Games 1998 Outdoors

Source: Wikipedia

The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance

Source: Trek Earth

Over 100,000 citizens participate in an awe-inspiring display of synchronized gymnastics and card games, recreating the nearly two-hour performance each night. Children as young as 5 are chosen for their talents, and are expected to participate in every following Mass Games until their retirement. All participants dedicate their free time to training for the event, a staggering eight months out of the year.

Mass Games Boys Girls

Source: Hungeree

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Cox, Savannah. "North Korea’s Impressive And Devastating “Mass Games”.", January 25, 2014, Accessed June 25, 2024.