North Korea has the biggest sports arena in the world — here’s a look inside

May day stadium

It’s no accident North Korea’s most sacred buildings are its largest.

According to Nick Bonner, a tour guide for Koryo Tours who visits once a year, the leaders of the country aim to to prove North Korea’s might through its architecture, most of which is made of bulky concrete.

That includes the May Day Stadium, a colossal structure built in 1989 and remodeled in 2014, which seats 150,000 people. It is the largest stadium by capacity in the world.

While it hosts some soccer matches and general athletic competitions, May Day’s grandest and most elaborate events are the annual Mass Games (known in Korean as Arirang). They pay tribute to the country’s history, founders, and current leaders through gymnastics and dance performances put on by thousands of participants.

The spectacle is often as grandiose as the venue itself.

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title=”Located in the heart of Pyongyang, North’s Korea capital city, May Day Stadium looms over the adjacent Taedong River in the shape of a magnolia blossom.”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5617bbb2dd0895be1a8b46e0/image.jpg”
source=”Nick Bonner”
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title=”The stadium has hosted a number of notable events, including the largest pay-per-view event for professional wrestling (in 1995). But by far the biggest series of events are the annual Mass Games.”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/561d06bddd0895d45d8b4585/image.jpg”
source=”Chris Price/Flickr”
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[slide
permalink=”/#many-spectators-have-to-sit-far-away-from-the-action-at-a-height-that-transcends-even-the-nosebleeds-4″
title=”Many spectators have to sit far away from the action at a height that transcends even the nosebleeds.”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/561d06bddd0895d45d8b4586/image.jpg”
source=”Chris Price/Flickr”
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[slide
permalink=”/#the-backdrop-for-the-mass-games-are-the-fans-tens-of-thousands-of-people-hold-different-colored-squares-that-assemble-to-form-giant-murals-hundreds-of-feet-across-6″
title=”The backdrop for the Mass Games are the fans. Tens of thousands of people hold different coloured squares that assemble to form giant murals hundreds of feet across.”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5617bbb2dd0895be1a8b46e4/image.jpg”
source=”Nick Bonner”
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[slide
permalink=”/#like-this-one-depicting-the-day-north-korea-south-korea-and-china-finally-called-an-end-to-the-war-on-july-27-1953-7″
title=”Like this one, depicting the day North Korea, South Korea, and China finally called an end to the war on July 27, 1953.”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5617bbb2dd0895be1a8b46e2/image.jpg”
source=”Nick Bonner”
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[slide
permalink=”/#dancers-and-gymnasts-perform-choreographed-routines-that-sync-with-the-crowds-murals-which-change-by-the-second-8″
title=”Dancers and gymnasts perform choreographed routines that sync with the crowd’s murals, which change by the second.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/561d06bddd0895d45d8b4588/image.jpg”
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[slide
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title=”Each year’s performance usually takes place in August or September. The Guinness Book of World Records has recognised the games as the largest performance of its kind in the world.”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/561d06bcdd0895d45d8b4583/image.jpg”
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title=”North Korea’s national animal is the flying horse Chollima, similar to Pegasus in Greek mythology. It symbolises heroism and the undying spirit of the North Korean people.”
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title=”All of the performances pay tribute to the founder of the country, Kim Il Sung, who led the country from 1972 to 1994. Without him, the Mass Games and May Day Stadium might not exist.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/561d06bddd0895d45d8b458a/image.jpg”
source=”Chris Price/Flickr”
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