Earlier this month many companies announced, as well as us triumphantly that the Mass Games will be returning in 2020. Why it was announced when it was is open for debate, especially when a smaller website had announced it weeks earlier, one can only assume it was a “hope for the best” scenario for the embattled North Korean tourist industry, but sadly the facts might be a bit different.
For all intents North Korea is under its own form of quarantine, with people forbidden to visit restaurants, mass gatherings forbidden, and national events, such as the Pyongyang Marathon being cancelled.
So, what does this have to do with the Mass Games? And why would;t an end to the virus mean the games can go ahead?
To understand this, you need to understand the sheer event that is the Mass Games. The Mass Games of North Korea, are a form of performing arts and gymnastics in which large numbers of performers take part in an artistic performance. How many people you may ask? A definition of large numbers is that over 100,000 people take part in the event, whilst being watched in the biggest stadium in the world.
The 100,000, or so participants consist of gymnasts, dancers, composers, and 30,000 well rehearsed school children doing what we know in the west as a “card stunt”, thus creating the amazing mosaic that accompanies this amazing event.
Now, if you are a regular visitor to North Korea, or better still merely do the math, an event of this magnitude takes a huge amount of planning, but also preparation. Part of a North Korean anywhere between March, and July, and you will see North Korean children practicing for the Mss Games in Kim Il Sung square, as well as many other places in the city.
Coronavirus has meant no practicing for the Mass Games, and it is that simple. No practicing, no Mass Gymnastics.
It is in my humble opinion that unless you are the worlds most optimistic person, don’t be planning to see Glorious Fatherland, Prosperous Country, Arirang, or whatever theme the mass games was due to take this year.