Days Out in Korea

Thursday, 15th May 2008 by

Normally considered to be places of fun and pleasure, perhaps the last country you would expect to find the world's largest stadium is in North Korea, one of the most isolated nations on the planet. However with the capacity to seat 150,000 people, the Rungado May Day Stadium is the biggest stadium of its kind in the world.1

During a professional wrestling match in 1995 the stadium held 190,000 people simultaneously, with crowds sprawling in its 8-tiered seating and across its 207,000m² pitch. The lofty canopies stretch 60m into the sky at their peaks.

This being North Korea however, the stadium's primary use is actually to celebrate the President, Kim Jong-il, who holds elaborate parades and displays of power here each May Day. Even more disturbingly, during the 1990s a number of army generals were apparently executed by being burned alive here.

The petal-shaped structure is not the only major stadium in the city, though. Just a few hundred metres away, there's another massive presidential ego boost - Kim-Il Sung Stadium2, which can seat a not unimpressive 70,000 people.

A massive amount of entertainment, don't you think, for a country where the GDP per capita fails to reach £1000, and 1 in 4 of the country's 23 million people are short of food?

Of course the money handling skills of the North Korean leaders are infamous, as demonstrated so clearly by the previously featured Ryugyong Hotel which would have been the world's tallest hotel - if they could have afforded to finish it.

You can read more about the Rungado May Day Stadium at Wikipedia and on The Guardian's website.

  1. Yes, the Czech Republic's Strahov Stadium seats 220,000, but has been split into 9 different football pitches, so apparently no longer counts↩︎

  2. Kim Il Sung, father of North Korea's current president Kim John-il, is still revered as a God, even fourteen years after his death. Despite leaving his country in economic ruin, over 800 statues still idolise him. ↩︎