North Korea

It is difficult to know what the state of the traditional performing arts is like in totalitarian North Korea. It seems that its cultural life concentrates, to a great extent, on upholding the cult of the “Eternal President” Kim II-sung and the achievements of the Korean Workers’ Party.

As the outside influences entered Korea from the Soviet Union and Communist China, it is no wonder that the North Korean mass events have common features with the art forms of those countries. In North Korea, too, art has been “serving” the Revolution. The Party actively plans the contents of culture. It is said that the present leader of the country, Kim Jong-il, has actively participated in the formulation of several art works.

The repertoire of the huge theatre halls includes large music and dance spectacles as well as operas, which echo the influence of the Chinese Revolutionary Model Operas. The backdrops may be projections with marvellous landscapes etc. Thousands of highly trained performers participate in these kinds of spectacles, which include, among others, the Song of the Paradise and the Song of Praise.

The most grandiose of all performances are the so-called Mass Games, which are organized in big stadiums, the largest of them with a capacity of 150 000 people. They are performed up to six nights a week for two months. The Mass Games consist of gymnastics, dance, and choreographed tableaux, which celebrate the achievements of the Party and its leaders. Up to 100.000 performers may participate in these disciplined mass events.