Kim Chu-ill is still full of excitement when he recalls the staging of a grand gymnastics and artistic performance in Pyongyang during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea last month.
More than 50,000 people were part of the performance, which included dancing in Chinese ethnic costumes, singing Chinese songs, gymnastics as well as drones, lasers and fireworks, along with changing background images created using colored placards by 17,000 high school students.
Xi, also general secretary of the Central Committee of CPC, and his wife Peng Liyuan watched the show in the company of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju at the May Day Stadium on the night of June 20.
Xi’s two-day state visit, the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years, came as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Kim Chu-ill, writer for the grand event, said it had taken the team fewer than 10 days to complete the preparation of the programs.
“It’s a miracle to create such a large-scale performance within 10 days. Totally unimaginable. But we made it, because it’s an assignment from Chairman Kim Jong-un,” Kim Chu-ill said during a recent interview with a Chinese media group in Pyongyang. “We gave it all to create it.”
Kim Su-yong, director-general of the performance, said the DPRK leader gave his direct instructions three times, all early in the morning, after the rehearsal ended.
“Our top leader picked the songs, for example. He ordered Flying Red Flag to be played when Chinese national flag entered the stadium,” said Kim Su-yong. The song expresses admiration for the Chinese flag.
The special Mass Games performance, themed on China-DPRK friendship, reflected the DPRK people’s enthusiastic welcome to Xi and expressed the hope of developing friendship between the two peoples.
Since its debut in 1961 (to celebrate the Fourth Congress of Workers’ Party of Korea), DPRK’s Mass Games, which underwent upgrading in content and form, has become an iconic and world-known art performance, a must-see for tourists. At one point in the latest performance titled People’s Country, singers sang Love My China to pay tribute to Chinese tourists at the stadium.
“With the exchange of visit by leaders of the two countries, bilateral relations has entered peak time,” said Kim Chu-ill.
It’s widely believed in the DPRK that Xi’s visit has brought bilateral ties into a new historical era and will consolidate traditional friendship between the two countries. Exchanges from education to tourism are expected to experience a boost after Xi’s visit.
The 30-meter-high China-DPRK Friendship Tower in Pyongyang, dedicated to Chinese martyrs of the Korean War (1950-53), is a symbol of the friendship. The memorial is built with 1,025 pieces of granite and marble, referring to Oct 25, 1950, when Chinese volunteers entered the war.
Three huge paintings on the wall of the stone room inside the tower describes scenes of Chinese volunteer soldiers crossing the Yalu River, fighting with Korean People’s Army in the Korean War and postwar home-rebuilding. Two books atop a table at the center of the room list some of the names of fallen volunteer soldiers.
About 2.4 million soldiers from the volunteer army fought in the war. The two countries have located 71 memorial sites in the DPRK, with 105,000 out of 197,653 martyrs buried in the country, according to media reports.
In Kaesong, a city about 170 km from Pyongyang, is situated the Martyrs’ Cemetery of Chinese People’s Volunteers. Built in March 1955 and renovated in September 2014, the cemetery has 24 collective tombs for 15,236 fallen Chinese soldiers during the Korean War, whose names are engraved on a black marble.
Kim Yong-mun, an administrator of this cemetery, said the DPRK has refurbished cemeteries for Chinese soldiers in the country. Students from universities, middle schools and primary schools will work as volunteers at the cemetery on a regular basis. On special occasions, Kaesong officials and people from all walks of life would pay tribute to the martyrs with wreaths or bouquets.
“Korean people will never forget the outstanding contributions these martyrs have made for them,” Kim Yong-mun said. “DPRK-China friendship, forged in blood, is very precious.”