Regional Arirang Variations Confirmed

Kim So Yeol  |  2012-02-06 16:12
Daily NK has obtained confirmation that since 2010, North Koreas so-called Mass Games, or Arirang, have also been happening in other locations in North Korea besides Pyongyang.

The confirmation was obtained in conversation with a defector from North Hamkyung Province who recently arrived in South Korea. According to the individual, The Arirang performance there was prepared under the leadership of the Provincial Propaganda and Workers Organization Departments, starting after April 15th, 2010.

In Chongjin it happened at Pohang Stadium, with participation from elementary and upper middle schools and universities, the source went on. It is small compared to the 100,000 people in Pyongyang, but the people here watching it for the first time were impressed. People were apparently dispatched from Pyongyang to explain how the performance should be organized.

Another defector, this time from southwestern Ongjin County in South Hwanghae Province, confirmed a similar story, explaining, In Haeju in Hwanghae Province, just as in Pyongyang, there was an order to perform Arirang, so we took it from Pyongyang in its original format and performed it from 2010. We tried really hard, and got good reviews.

Apparently, the decision to make the event a nationwide one came about when Kim Jong Il enjoyed an Arirang-esque performance in Jagang Province in August, 2009, and thereafter declared that all areas should create performances of their own to highlight regional variations. Thereafter, according to the North Hamkyung Province source, Major cities nationwide began to hold group gymnastics performances from 2010 In order to implement Kim Jong Ils policy.

For example, it has been confirmed that a similar performance took place in Wonsan, the main city in rural Gangwon Province. It is unclear whether there was any such performance in northern Yangkang Province, however.

The regional performances last 2 hours, and are held every Sunday from August to October, along with the national holidays on August 15th, September 9th and October 10th. They apparently address similar themes to the main Arirang performance held in the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. The cost of attendance is reportedly 1,000 won for a basic ticket, rising to 3,000 won for a seat with a view of the card section.

When training starts at the culmination of events commemorating the anniversary of Kim Il Sungs birthday in April, participating school children only attend classes in the morning and then practice sessions in the afternoon. In July, the month before the performance starts, they apparently do not attend school classes at all.

However, as the North Hamkyung Province source explained; one thing that is absolutely not the same is the quality of the gifts handed out to performers.

When they were organizing the performance, the rumor was that, like Pyongyang, participating students would receive good quality blankets and electric sewing machines as gifts, but actually after the final performance on October 10th the performers just got two cheap notebooks, two ballpens, two pencils and a pencil case, he said.
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