Inside the Arirang Festival in North Korea.

Inside is an ongoing project giving you a glimpse of life on the inside of some of the worlds most least documented/dangerous places. Collaborating with fearless adventurers armed only with a camera and pen to bring you outstanding photographic albums and stories. You can find our other Venture Projects here.

North Korea swapping the nukes for leotards and picture cards.

North Korea known for their love of military parades, nuclear ambition and undiplomatic temper tantrums have a national pride – a passion almost, that some of you may not of heard about. Arirang Festival held in Pyongyang, North Korea is a gymnastics display like you’ve never seen before. The name of the festival derives from an old Korean folk story, one where a young couple is torn apart by an “evil landlord” intending to convey a deeper message about the division of Korea.

Containing swathes of highly trained citizens forming imagery from the stands using cards, this expertly coordinated display happens in perfectly timed unison. In many of the photographs the background of the gymnastic performances is illuminated with brightly coloured creations telling a story, or showing unwavering loyalty to their military overlords.

It is reported that North Korean citizens as young as 5 years of age are recruited into the Arirang Festival. For these artists and gymnasts the festival is said to become a way of life for them, many serving out their entire career in dedication to the festival until they retire.

You can check out the rest of Stephan’s adventures on his portfolio.