The video below shows the celebrations of Youth Day 2011, the day my group played in the first Ultimate Frisbee tournament (not in the video) and attended a Mass Dance (in the video). A Mass Dance is different than the spectacular Arirang Mass Games — a huge choreographed performance of about 100,000 people. A Mass Dance seems to be a public folk dance in a public square.
Our bus brought us to a public square, where we saw hundreds of people, about eighty percent women, dancing to the music. What could we do but join them?
I only appear for a few seconds and in the background, around 4:50 in the video, behind Jordan and Andrew, just after Joe appears with his camera. We all look dorkier than each other. (Please click on the links for Andrew and Joe’s names for their amazing pictures of North Korea. They are amazing photographers). Thank you to Dan for finding the video.
The video also shows performances like we saw — like Andrews Sisters meets Lawrence Welk: often precise technical perfection, tight orchestration, no apparent improvisation, very upbeat emotion, and little personal expression. The races and playfulness in a few spots in the video struck me as rare opportunities to let exuberant and unchoreographed emotions emerge. We just didn’t see much of that there.
Come to think of it, that unrehearsed release of intense public emotion is an element we saw playing ultimate Frisbee I didn’t identify in making the tournament so amazing. At no other time did we witness such free release of unrehearsed emotion, whereas playing ultimate we saw it in abundance, both on the field on all around.
Pyongyang, August 28 (KCNA) — Youth and students in the DPRK significantly celebrated Youth Day Sunday.
Senior party and state officials and officials of party and government organs and working people’s organizations in Pyongyang and local areas visited the Chollima Steel Complex, the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang Silk Mill, the Pyongyang Kim Won Gyun Conservatory, the Kim Jong Thae Electrical Locomotive Complex, the Namhung Youth Chemical Complex, the Chongsan Cooperative Farm in Kangso District and other industrial establishments, farms and universities and congratulated youth and students.
They together with youth and students laid floral baskets and bouquets and flowers before statues and portraits of smiling President Kim Il Sung and monuments to the revolutionary exploits of the peerlessly great men standing at relevant units and paid tribute to him in humble reverence.
Looking round the rooms for the education in the revolutionary history, the rooms devoted to the history of the units and other places, they were briefed on the immortal exploits performed by the peerlessly great persons and the shining achievements made by the youth and the students.
Senior officials of the party and the state met exemplary officials and members of the youth league and innovators and congratulated them on their achievements and told them to make tangible contributions to the prosperity of the country.
Today youth and students enjoyed performances given by art squads and had sports and amusement games.
I can still remember the women teaching me the steps, “hana doo-ay set net…”, which I think means “one two three four”. I do what I always do when I don’t know a dance, which is to spin the girls until everybody is laughing.
EDIT: I referred to this post in my ebook, Understanding North Korea: Demystifying the World’s Most Misunderstood Country. I wrote the book to help increase understanding, communication, and freedom.
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