Kim Il-sung Stadium - North Korea's world cup venue


Where do North Korea play their World Cup matches? A question I often thought I knew the answer to, but it turns out after all these years, the venue I thought North Korea used for their games is incorrect.

Kim Il-sung Stadium not the May Day Stadium 

Before today, I didn't know about the Kim Il-sung Stadium. I have always thought that North Korea play every single fixture at the May Day stadium, just like every media outlet claims. I decided I would have a look into the the famous 114000 capacity May Day stadium, as it is a stadium I have heard so much about, and one that is firmly smashed onto my bucket list. I'd love to experience a World Cup match there in all it's choreographed glory.

To my horror, I read that North Korea play their World Cup fixtures at the Kim Il-sung Stadium and the reason was pointed out why on twitter, because it uses natural grass unlike the May Day stadium which has artificial turf. This seems to be a trivial, but a quick google search did clear things up, that men's qualifiers are indeed played on grass surfaces. Therefore the May Day stadium is out and the Kim Il-sung Stadium is in. Unless the North Korean's decide to put grass in the May Day stadium, my bucket list will never become a reality or I just have to accept the Kim Il-sung.

About the Kim Il-sung

The Kim Il-sung was built in 1926, remodeled in 1969, and then renovated in 1982. It has a 50,000 capacity which is some way below the May Day stadium, both the Kim Il-sung and the May Day stadium are located in Pyongyang.

It looks like the Russian World Cup qualifiers were played at the Kim Il-sung, but the one saving thing that could save us all in the hope that the May Day stadium might still be used, is that there is a big lack of information anywhere about North Korea. So what I figure out, is everything I have read today is mostly based on what has been used in previous qualifying events for the North Korean national side.

One thing for sure, if I was North Korea, and everything is agreed to play South Korea in Pyongyang, I would most definitely be hosting that game at the May Day stadium. Even if I had to start growing the grass now!  Sadly, if I ever take the risk of going to North Korea for a World Cup qualifier in the hope of witnessing choreographed glory like no other, I will have to make do with the Kim Il-sung and not be tempted to come home with a poster.


  1. The Kim Il Sung stadium also has an artificial pitch.

    1. You are right, we will correct this on our social media platforms and in the write up.

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