Arirang mass games cancelled/resumed for 2007

The DPRK pulled a “Ross Perot” with the Arirang Mass Games this year. 

After initially announcing that severe flooding would not interrupt the performance (as it had in 2006) the games were in fact cancelled because much of the population was mobilized for infrastructure repairs.

Well, I guess things are manageable again, at least in Pyongynag, because the Mass Games are back on.  According to Koryo Tours:

September 6th IMPORTANT UPDATE: We have just been informed that the mass games, which were suspended due to the flooding, will be back on from September 17th. All tours going to DPRK between then and October 10th will be able to see the games.

UPDATE:
N. Korea to resume ‘Arirang’ mass gymnastic performance
Yonhap

9/23/2007

North Korea will resume its annual large-scale artistic performance that was suspended last month due to damages from heavy rain, the country’s official media reported Sunday.

“The Arirang Festival will continue … amid strong interest at home and abroad,” the North’s Korea Central Television Station reported.

The first part of this year’s show was held between mid-May and May 20, and ran every day except Sundays for about 80 minutes starting at 8 p.m. The second part, which was to run from Aug. 1 to mid-October, was suspended last last month due to flood recovery efforts by many North Koreans.

In the show, some 100,000 people perform synchronized acrobatics on the field while various images are displayed in the stands. From outside North Korea, the festival is largely considered a propaganda show.

Pyongyang is eager to show off the country’s unity and its tight control over its 23 million people to the outside world amid chronic economic hardships and the standoff over its nuclear weapons program.

The resumption was at least partially expected, as South Korean officials announced earlier this week that they are pushing for the leaders of the two Koreas, Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il, to sit side-by-side to watch the performance on Aug. 2, during South Korean President Roh’s scheduled visit to the North early next month.

Devastating floods are believed to have destroyed 11 percent of the North’s farmland, and the number of dead and missing is estimated to be more than 300, with the homeless numbering about 300,000. An estimated 46,580 homes of 88,400 families were destroyed or damaged, according to the North’s media.

This year’s performance carries special significance for North Korea, as it celebrates the 95th anniversary of the birth of its founding leader, Kim Il-sung, who died of heart failure in 1994. This year also marks the 62nd anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule and the founding of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.

Past Stories below:

N. Korea suspends ‘Arirang’ mass gymnastic performance
Yonhap

Sohn suk-joo
8/27/2007

North Korea has suspended its large-scale gymnastic and artistic performance due to damage from recent heavy rains, the country’s state media reported Monday.

“It has now become hard to continue the performance as working people in different parts of the country are all out to recover from the flood damage these days,” the Korean Central News Agency said. “The performance is expected to be staged again after the flood damage is cleared away.”

The “Arirang” festival, named after a famous traditional Korean folk song, was held in 2002 and 2005, but was cancelled last year due to floods.

Arirang
The first part of this year’s show, which ran about 80 minutes starting at 8 p.m. every day except for Sunday, was held between mid-April and May 20. The second part started on Aug. 1 and was to last until mid-October.

Earlier this month, North Korea said it would continue the performance despite heavy floods that devastated much of the communist country.

This year’s performance carries special significance for North Korea, as it celebrates the 95th anniversary of the birth of its founding leader Kim Il-sung who died of heart failure in 1994. This year also marks the 62nd anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule and the founding of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.

Devastating floods are believed to have destroyed 11 percent of the North’s farmland, and the number of dead and missing is estimated to reach more than 300, with the homeless numbering about 300,000. An estimated 46,580 homes of 88,400 families were destroyed or damaged, according to the North’s media.

Floods fail to dampen North’s Arirang festival
Joong ang Daily

Yeh Young-june and Ser Myo-ja
8/22/2007

The show must go on. Despite a national emergency caused by flood damage, North Korea’s annual “Arirang” festival in Pyongyang is continuing as usual, the state media reported yesterday.

“Tens of thousands of people from all classes, including laborers, youngsters, students, Koreans living overseas and foreigners, visit the May 1 Stadium to see the annual grand mass gymnastics and artistic performances of Arirang,” Kim Keun-ryong, production director of the national Arirang preparation committee, said in an interview with Korean Central TV.

The North canceled the annual series of performances, which require about 100,000 participants per show, last summer due to similar flood damage. This year’s flood damage is believed to be greater than last year, and it prompted the North to postpone the inter-Korean summit that was scheduled to take place next week.

At a Blue House press briefing, Cheon Ho Seon, the presidential spokesman, said, “I believe the condition there is actually serious.”

Asked how Pyongyang could go ahead with the song and dance festival, Cheon said, “The North makes its own judgment about Arirang by taking into account its meaning and importance, so we do not have to comment on it.”

This year’s extravaganza is dedicated to the 95th birth anniversary of North Korea’s late founder Kim Il Sung. The summertime shows began on Aug. 1 and are to run until mid-October.

While most parts of Pyongyang, including many roads and hotels, were flooded, the stadium where the performance takes place is safe, sources well-informed about North Korean affairs said.

“The North probably wants to use the event to unify public opinion at the same time as it earns foreign currency,” a South Korean official said. “So it is hard for them to cancel the performances in mid-stride.”

Meanwhile, North Korea asked the South to provide construction materials and equipment for recovery work, the Unification Ministry said yesterday. Through its liaison contact at the truce village of Panmunjeom, the North asked for help in rebuilding roads and houses, adding “The South should make the decision on what and how much it will give.”

A Unification Ministry official said some portions of the highway between Pyongyang and Kaesong, which will be used by President Roh Moo-hyun for his summit trip in October, were also damaged and recovery work is urgent.

“After consulting with other ministries, we will decide on the aid,” Kim Nam-sik, the Unification Ministry spokesman, said, adding, “It will be about the same amount as the flood relief aid sent last year.” In 2006, the South provided 86.3 billion-won ($91.5 million) worth of goods to the North, including 10 billion-won worth of nongovernmental aid.

There are also concerns about a power shortage. North Korean media said power plants were damaged by the floods, and about 400 mines were flooded, a serious blow in coal-dependent North Korea.

N. Korea continues mass gymnastics show despite flood damage
Yonhap

8/21/2007

North Korea is continuing its mass gymnastics performance despite heavy floods that devastated much of the communist country, the North’s state media reported Tuesday.

“Arirang,” named after a famous traditional Korean folk song, was held in 2002 and 2005, but was cancelled last year due to floods.

The first part of this year’s show, which ran about 80 minutes starting at 8 p.m. every day except for Sunday, was held between mid-May and May 20. The second part started on Aug. 1 and is to last until mid-October.

“Every day tens of thousands of people from all walks of life come to the May Day Stadium to watch the annual and traditional mass gymnastic and art performance,” Kim Kum-ryong, director of the organizing committee, said in an interview with the Korean Central Broadcasting Station.

The performance took place for nearly five months when it was first held in 2002, with about 100,000 people participating.

This year’s performance carries special significance for North Korea, as it celebrates the 95th anniversary of the birth of its founding leader Kim Il-sung who died of heart failure in 1994. This year also marks the 62nd anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule and the founding of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.

Devastating floods are believed to have destroyed 11 percent of the North’s farmland, and the number of dead and missing is estimated to reach more than 300, with the homeless numbering about 300,000. An estimated 46,580 homes of 88,400 families were destroyed or damaged, according to the North’s media.

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One Response to “Arirang mass games cancelled/resumed for 2007”

  1. […] *  Mind Games:  The summit is postponed, but as of today, the Arirang Festival is still on.  NK Econ Watch, the Florida Masochist, and GI Korea all have posts on this.  My money is on Arirang being cancelled, too, in the end.  Arirang is all about projecting a utopian ideal.  […]