Training for the events will often last an entire year, including 4-6 months during which the participants train all day at the expense of their schooling. Training practice is grueling. Children who do not perfect their performances are subjected to physical punishment and additional evening training.
A former university sports teacher informed the Commission that he was required to train students for the Mass Games. He said students were forced to train 6-12 hours a day in very harsh conditions. Anyone with any sort of disability was excluded, which is pretty much what happens throughout their society as a whole (more on that in later episodes). The witness recalled that many children fainted from fatigue during training. Many also suffered severe injuries.
Anyone who made repeated mistakes was kept behind at the training ground until midnight as a punishment. Ms L recalls that her teachers would invoke the example of a boy of 7 or 8 years of age who had practiced through the intense pain of an acute appendicitis. He eventually died because he did not receive timely medical care. The dead child was treated as a hero because he had dedicated his entire life for an event in the presence of Kim Jong-il.