A Night in Pyongyang

Photographer Werner Kranwetvogel looking at the core elements of the Mass Games, a spectacular extravaganza of gymnastics, synchronisation and music involving over 100,000 performers.

A photography project looking at the core elements of the Mass Games, a spectacular extravaganza of gymnastics, synchronisation and music involving over 100,000 performers.

A Night in Pyongyang book cover

A Night in Pyongyang

A Night in Pyongyang book cover Mass Games

Mass Games

About the Book

Take tens of thousands of children, place them in one of the largest stadiums in the world, arm them with giant flip-books containing hundreds of coloured panels, train them to move in perfect unison and you get the awe-inspiring human mosaics of the Arirang Mass Games. In 2005 Koryo Tours arranged special permission for Werner Kranwetvogel to photograph the enormous show Arirang with over 100,000 performers.

The Mass Games are composed of three different elements: gymnastics, backdrop, and music. Each of these components is essential for a successful performance but they are not identical in their degree of importance.

Probably the most spectacular part of the show is the backdrop. This field of synchronized humanity spreads across one whole side of the stadium and contains up to 20,000 individual students, each holding a large book with pages of block colours which, when seen as a whole are combined to huge pictures. When the students turn the pages simultaneously, the whole scene, or just individual elements, change. It’s a gigantic display formed with “human pixels”. Kranwetvogel was interested in isolating individual performing groups. With a telephoto lens he was able to zoom in on single movements, gestures, and heads from within the ever-shifting carpet of colour created by the masses.

‘A Night in Pyongyang’ was published in 2007 by German publisher Nicolai co-written with Nicholas Bonner of Koryo.

Limited edition prints available, please contact us for details

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