In the News – N. Korea to kick off Arirang Festival in April

In the News – N. Korea to kick off Arirang Festival in April

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) — North Korea will start its massive dance and gymnastics extravaganza in April to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder and new leader Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, a U.S.-based travel agency said Sunday.

According to New Tours Korea, the U.S.-based travel agency that specializes in guided tours to North Korea, the Arirang Mass Game will be held from April 10 to May 1 and from August 1 until Sept. 15. 

The performance, named after a famous Korean folk song, has been held almost annually since 2002, when it debuted to celebrate the 90th birthday of Kim Il-sung. It features tens of thousands of young gymnasts performing synchronized acrobatics, dances and flip-card mosaic animations in what is believed to be the largest gymnastics show in the world.

A portrait of North Korean founding father Kim Il-sung is made by persons holding up colored cards at a stadium during the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang on April 24, 2011. (Yonhap file photo)

The mass event usually opens in August and this will be the first time in five years it will be held in April.

April 15th is the 100th anniversary of the anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung.

A posting on the travel agency’s Web site states the period between April 15th and May 1st “will be celebrated in style and on a massive scale. You will see a Mass Games performance, the Kimilsungia flower show, as much mingling with the local citizenry as possible, as well as all the highlights of a regular DPRK tour.”

DPRK is the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A visa is provided as part of any tour application procedure, and travel restrictions for U.S. citizens have been recently relaxed, the site states, adding South Korean passport holders are not allowed to visit North Korea with its tours.

Experts said this year’s event is expected to be more lavish than any in the past, as the communist country seeks to become a “strong and prosperous nation” this year, to coincide with the centennial of the birth of Kim Il-sung and the shoring up of the new leadership led by Kim Jong-un after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December.

Original article can be found here

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