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Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 22:16
DPRK looks to hold 'Mass Games' this year despite virus fears
By Reuters
Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 22:16 By Reuters

SEOUL - Despite the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ban on foreign tourism over coronavirus fears, the nation has announced plans to stage its “Mass Games”, featuring thousands of dancers, gymnasts and singers, as soon as August, tour companies said on Tuesday.

The DPRK has no confirmed virus cases, but it stopped flights and train services with its neighbors, set up month-long mandatory quarantines, suspended tourism, and imposed a near-complete lockdown on cross-border travel.

But the Mass Games announcement suggests Pyongyang hopes the crisis will ease by the summer, allowing it to cash in on foreign tourism, one of the few business areas to escape international sanctions

But the Mass Games announcement suggests Pyongyang hopes the crisis will ease by the summer, allowing it to cash in on foreign tourism, one of the few business areas to escape international sanctions.

The Mass Games are due to return on Aug 15, which is celebrated as Liberation Day on the anniversary of Japan’s defeat at the end of World War II, Young Pioneer Tours, which runs tours to the North, said in a statement.

READ MORE: DPRK tourism thriving among Chinese thanks to historical links

Despite the name, the Mass Games are large performances involving tens of thousands of dancers, gymnasts, martial artists and singers acting out familiar propaganda themes.

Another firm, Koryo Tours, quoted sources in the DPRK as saying the games were expected to be held over major holidays, perhaps starting on Aug 15 and including Oct 10, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea.

No further details were known, and tickets are always sold on site rather than in advance, said Koryo Tours general manager Simon Cockerell.

“Tourists still can’t enter North Korea but when the virus issue dies down the border will open again,” Cockerell told Reuters. The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea.

ALSO READ: DPRK opens new mountain resort amid tourism drive

The DPRK revived the Mass Games in 2018 to sell an image of international engagement and peace while raising much-needed foreign currency.

They are a major draw for tourists, most of them from China.

 


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