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The Rungnado May First Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea

May 20th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

The Rungnado May First Stadium, or May Day Stadium, is a monumental stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea completed on May 1, 1989. Its names come from Rungna Island on the Taedong River, upon which it is situated, and May Day, the international day celebrating labor and particularly celebrated among communists. Its scalloped roof features 16 arches arranged in a ring, and it is said to resemble a parachute or a magnolia blossom.

It is the largest multi-purpose stadium in Asia and the second largest in the world. It can seat 150,000 for events on a main pitch sprawling across over 22,500 m2 (242,200 ft2). Its total floor space is over 207,000 m2 (2.2 million ft2) across eight storeys, and the lobes of its roof peak at more than 60 m (197 ft) from the ground. It is more than double the size of the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea.[1]

While the stadium is used for sporting events, it is more famous as the site of massive parades and shows celebrating Kim Il-Sung and the North Korean nation. In May of 2002 it was the site of the colossal and meticulously choreographed "Arirang" gymnastic and artistic performance in honor of Kim's 60th birthday. The extravaganza involved some 100,000 participants—double the number of spectators[2]— and was open to foreigners, a rare occurrence. Critics of the regime said the spectacle was an attempt to distract from the 2002 World Cup being co-sponsored by South Korea shortly thereafter, and an effort to raise scarce hard currency.

It was also the venue in which "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il in 1999 entertained Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton and the highest ranking American official ever to visit North Korea.

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