North Korea's outside world party

Welcome to the strangest show on earth:

"Yet North Korea is pathologically suspicious of outsiders. In this country of 23 million people, there are only 300 foreign residents. Normally, there are so few visiting tourists and business people that overseas consular and Koryo airline offices are empty. Arirang, however, is part of a propaganda offensive on a scale that would make a big-spending Hollywood mogul envious. The stage is the 150,000-capacity May Day stadium in Pyongyang, and the cast is 100,000 strong. The performance is a technicolour mix of entertainment: a floorshow by 1,000 dancers; a military tattoo; a martial arts display; hordes of waving, smiling children; an aerial ballet by dancers on bungee ropes... It is an awesome product of political control and economic weakness. Starved of energy, and economically retarded, the only resource North Korea has in abundance is its people - and they are often employed in places where richer countries would use electricity. Just as policewomen direct Pyongyang's traffic rather than automated lights; in Arirang, tens of thousands of children are used to create a giant screen."


October 01, 2005 | 10:17 PM