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N. Korea Cancels Arirang Tourist Show

Posted July. 31, 2006 03:04,   


It was reported yesterday that North Korea canceled, its mass gymnastics performance, “Arirang,” because of flooding that hit North Korea lately.

According to the pro-North Korea website Minjok Tongshin, Yun Kil-sang, president of the Korean American National Coordinating Council, was informed by North Korea`s Ambassador to the United Nations last Friday, “Because of flood damage, North Korea has to cancel the performance this year and will resume sometime in spring next year.”

According to North Korea’s original schedule, the performance is being run from August 14 to mid October this year at the Rungnado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang.

In regard to this, however, a source from Ministry of Unification said, “We noticed from South Korea agencies supporting this performance that they haven’t received any message from North Korea about the performance cancellation. There was no communication between two Korea governments about this either.”

Because of a recent heavy rain that fell in the Rungnado, Pyongyang, as many as 1,200 trees fell down, and facilities such as swimming pools and roads were largely covered with mud and garbage.

On July 21, North Korea’s Korea Central News Agency reported, “Heavy rain that fell from July 14 to 16 left hundreds of people dead or missing, inundated tens of thousands of buildings like houses and public buildings, and destroyed hundreds of bridges, roads, and railroads.”

The cancellation of the show is expected to cause great loss to North Korea’s foreign-currency earning plan.

Last year, 7,730 South Koreans saw the ‘Arirang.” Each visitor paid one million won on average for a one night and two day visit. Excluding airfare, about 550,000 or 600,000 won went to North Korea to cover the cost of admission, accommodation, and transportation per visitor.

According to this calculation, the amount that North Korea earned from South Korea last year via this performance reached to anywhere between 4.2 billion won and 4.6 billion won in U.S. dollars.

Including additional earnings from visits of other countries such as China, United States, and European countries, the government estimated that what North Korea earned from this performance last year would be at least anywhere between 6.0-7.0 billion won.

For this year, it was reported that three organizations including South Korea Council for Implementation of June 15 Joint Declaration, planned to invite 15,000 South Koreans to see the show.

After having working-level talks with the North Korea Council for Implementation of June 15 Joint Declaration at Mt. Geumgang on July 16, the South Korea Council announced, “From August 14 to 16, 200 civilians will visit North Korea to take part in the 8.15 festival and during this visit, they also will see the performance ‘Arirang.’” This information revealed that despite North Korea’s recent missile launches, the Korean government decided to push forward with its original planned visit.

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com