US tour company cancel trips to DPRK

from Yonhap:

U.S. travel agency cancels tour program to N. Korea

Washington, July 30 (Yonhap) — Travel agencies have scrapped their Pyongyang tour packages after North Korea cancelled its annual propaganda festival, citing flood damage and a joint South Korea-U.S. military training exercise, agency officials said Sunday.

North Korea had allowed travel companies to recruit U.S. and other foreign citizens to attend its Arirang Festival, which was to open on Aug. 15 for a two-month run.

The event, which features mass gymnastic shows, began in 2002 to commemorate the North’s founding leader Kim Il-sung, father of current leader Kim Jong-il.

North Korea said last week it would cancel this year’s Arirang Festival due to recent floods that killed at least 154 people, left 127 others missing and caused serious damage to its infrastructure. The North also cited the Ulji-Focus Lens, an annual South Korea-U.S. drill due to be launched in August, arguing the exercise is a rehearsal for a northward invasion.

On Sunday, Asia Pacific Travel, a U.S. travel company and Koreakonsult, a Swedish travel agency, withheld their Pyongyang trip plans, as the North’s festival was cancelled.

Asia Pacific Travel was to book about 200 Americans for a trip to North Korea, which was also to include visits to scenic Mount Myohyang, the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong and the demilitarized zone.

North Korea has largely been off limits to Americans, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The U.S. fought alongside South Korea to repel invading communist North Korean troops, aided by Chinese soldiers, during the conflict.

The relations between North Korea and the U.S. have worsened since the North conducted multiple missile tests on July 5, despite repeated international warnings. The U.S. and Japan led a U.N. Security Council’s passage of a resolution imposing sanctions on the North.

North Korea and the U.S. don’t have diplomatic relations.

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