Photography

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The North Korean Mass Games Performed by 100,000 People

September 26, 2011

Christopher Jobson

Photographer Sam Gellman who is originally from Wisconsin has been living and working in Hong Kong for the past five years. He recently returned from a 4-day trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea where he was able to witness and photograph the Mass Games in Pyongyang. The Mass Games are a meticulously regimented display of gymnastics and other performing arts by nearly 100,000 participants, heavily laden with messages of state-sponsored propaganda. Perhaps the most incredible sight is that of the colorful backdrops consisting of thousands of perfectly placed children who sequentially flip through pieces of paper, creating staggering pictures of flags, horses, and slogans. Ten drunk sports fans with a team name written on their chests this is not. Gellman says via Flickr of the image above:

This shot was taken at the Mass Games, a propaganda-filled 100,000 person choreographed performance of simultaneous dancing and gymnastics on the field of Pyongyang’s May Day stadium. The image in the background of the horse is made up of 20,000 “pixels” which are constantly being changed into new images, each pixel by a different Korean kid. Each time they turn the page to create a new giant picture, they cry out, mixing the shout with the noise of thousands of pages turned at the same moment.

This display, and the forces at work behind it, equally fascinate and terrify me. If you want to see more, Gellman has published nearly 50 photos from his trip.

 

 

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