Welcome To The Amazing Rungrado 1st of May Stadium (or not?)

Who would have thought that the biggest stadium in the world is located in North Korea? Well, it is and it’s called the “Rungrado 1st of May Stadium.”

The reason it’s called this way is that it’s located on Rungra Island in the capital of the country, Pyongyang, and it opened its doors on May 1 of the year 1989.

Let’s take a closer look at this infamous stadium.

1. It’s a multi-purpose stadium

If we think about North Korea, it’s usually bad things. The people in this country live pretty much in complete isolation and hardly know a thing about the outside world.

This doesn’t mean nothing ever happens there though. The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium hosts multiple events every year, usually football (or soccer in 9 countries) matches, athletic events, and mass games.

To name a bad thing, it’s probably also used as the stage of mass executions, but not much is known about this officially.

The stadium in Rungra Island / Gilad.rom / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

2. It has the largest seating capacity in the world

Some sources claim that the stadium has a seating capacity of around 150,000. A more reliable and realistic estimate is that the stadium can seat 114,000 people.

This still ensures it has 4,000 more seats than the Motera Stadium in India, and nearly 7,000 than Michigan Stadium in the United States.

3. It’s really a massive stadium

The stadium is located on Rungra Island, a river island located in the middle of the Taedong River which runs through the city. The island has a total area of about 1.3 square kilometers (0.50 square miles).

The stadium itself covers an area of 207,000 square meters (2,230,000 square feet) and has a pitch size of 22,500 square meters (242,000 square feet).

View of the satdium / Nicor / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

4. It’s most prominent feature is its arched roof

The stadium has an enormous roof which consists of a total of 16 arches. These are arranged in a circle and resemble a magnolia blossom.

The roof is estimated to tower about 60 meters (200 feet) above the ground, making it visible from just about anywhere in the city.

Outside pyongyang stadium
Outside Pyongyang stadium / Nicor / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

5. Why was the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium built?

The Summer Olympics of the year 1988 were held in Seoul in South Korea. This massive event kind of made the government of North Korea a bit jealous, so they switched in overdrive to get the biggest stadium in the world ready.

After all, North Korea is the most amazing country in the world, right?

If you’re a North Korean, please answer yes right now.

6. A massive international event was hosted in its first year

It wasn’t anywhere near the scale of the Summer Olympics, but there was another reason that the stadium was constructed.

Just after the stadium was completed and officially opened on May 1, 1989, the stadium was the stage of the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students.

It was held from July 1 until July 8 that year and about 22,000 people from 177 countries took part in the festival, including 100 people from the United States.

In all honesty, we don’t have a clue what this event is about, but it was held in the stadium, that’s for sure. It didn’t change a thing regarding the perception of the Western World on the country though.

Rungrado Stadium
Not your typical game / Source

7. It was the stage of a massive PPV wrestling event in 1995

Perhaps one of the most astounding facts about the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium is that it hosted the biggest pay-per-view professional wrestling event at the time in 1995.

This event was referred to as the “Collision in Korea” and was jointly produced by New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and shown in North America on August 4, 1995.

8. It’s famous for its artistic performance displays

The most famous event at the stadium is the huge “Arirang Mass Games,” a mass gymnastics and artistic festival.

These games were held between 2002 and 2013 (except for 2006) and returned once in 2018. It’s famous because of the huge numbers of people that are involved and the massive preparations they take to create such an amazing spectacle.

Obviously, these games have a double purpose as they are intended to glorify the “amazing” country of North Korea.

The games in Pyongyang / Source

9. A Guinness World Record was set at the stadium in 2007

On August 14, 2007, the Arirang Games set a Guinness World Record for having the largest gymnastic display.

During these games, a total of 100,090 participants were involved in the spectacle, a truly astounding performance!

The event was also special because it was open to foreigners, something which is hardly the case.

Arirang Pyongyang
The Arirang Games in 2007. / Source

10. The South Korean President gave a speech in front of a packed house

So you are preparing for a speech, and suddenly, you realize that over 150,000 outlandish North Koreans will be listening to every word you say.

And yes, they speak your language as well!

This is exactly what happened during the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September 2018, when President Moon Jae-in of South Korea gave his speech at the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium.

Another amazing display at Pyongyang Stadium / Source

The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium is the setting of some of the most amazing displays that humans have ever produced, yet it’s really hard to enjoy them when you realize that the people creating them are basically living in a giant prison camp.

We can only hope that the course of the country will eventually change, and the stadium can be visited by people from all around the world to enjoy the various events that happen there. (and no, we’re not talking about public executions!)