Choreography of Happines II – North Korea
Arirang Festival in Pyongyang
The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang is a gymnastics and artistic festival held in the Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. The name refers to Arirang, a Korean folk story about a young couple who are torn apart by an evil landlord, here intended to represent the division of Korea. According to the DPRK publication “Arirang” this particular mass games celebrates the story of North Korea: “The extravaganza unfolds an epic story of how the Arirang nation of Korea, a country of morning calm, in the Orient put an end to the history of distress and rose as a dignified nation with the song Arirang”.
The Mass Games possess an important ideological character praising the Workers Party of Korea, its armed forces, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. These messages may not be clear to foreign spectators, who are not aware of North Korean iconography: a rising sun symbolizes Kim Il-sung. When a gun is shown, it signifies the gun which Kim Il-sung gave to his son Kim Jong-il. The colour red, particularly in flowers, stands for the working class, and the colour purple and red flowers represent Kim Il-sung (as the flower Kimilsungia is a purple orchid and the flower Kimjongilia is a red begonia). A snowy mountain with a lake represents Mount Paektu, where Kim Jong-il is said to have been born in a log cabin.