Five facts about the North Korean Arirang festival

North Korea’s Arirang festival is in motion, and people from all over the world are traveling to the isolated communist country to watch what truly is an impressive undertaking. But, what do we really know about it? So much about North Korea is shrouded in mystery, making it hard to really learn much about what goes on there.

Instead of relying on the accounts of tourists, the western media or other “unreliable” sources, let’s go straight to the horse’s mouth. The Korea Central News Agency is the country’s official news organization regime’s mouthpiece, and has plenty of carefully selected stories to share with people outside North Korea … since nobody in the country has a whole lot of access to the website, which is based in Japan.

So, let’s learn a little about Arirang – from the folks who know it best!

1. Truly performed by masses: 100,000 performers participate in the Arirang festival, which is “admired by the spectators for its kaleidoscopic background and wonderful scenes”

2. New this decade: Arirang was introduced in 2002 to celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung

3. Countless of performances: Over its eight-year life, Arirang has been performed “several hundred times”

4. World record-setting: The Guinness Book of World Records picked up Arirang in August 2007, but that’s not nearly as impressive the fact that it was “the first to receive Peace Order and its diploma in April of the same year since it was instituted by “Protectors of Arts for the Century”, a Russian international charity fund, to appreciate epoch-making masterpieces, inventions and works”

5. Millions and millions served: Apparently, 12,127,000 people have viewed all the Arirang performances held, 118,000 of them foreigners … but who’s counting?

Of course, according to the KCNA: “‘Arirang’ is recognized as cultural asset of humankind.”

[photo by yeowatzup via Flickr]