SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea will temporarily suspend the latest edition of its famous mass games, which involve thousands of performers working in precise synchronization, after the premiere drew strong criticism from leader Kim Jong Un, international travel agencies said Wednesday.
Simon Cockerell, general manager of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, said it was informed by its North Korean partners that the show, titled “The Land of the People,” will be suspended for days or weeks starting next Monday while its creators make adjustments. Rowan Beard, a tour manager at Young Pioneer Tours, said his company heard the same information and that no dates were given for when the show would resume.
“We assume it will halt so some tweaks and improvements can be made to the performance,” Beard said in an email.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim seriously criticized the creators for a “wrong spirit of creation and irresponsible work attitude” following Monday’s opening performance at Pyongyang’s 150,000-seat May Day Stadium. KCNA said Kim set forth “important tasks” to correctly implement the country’s revolutionary policy on literature and art. It did not provide further details.
The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos of Kim waving to clapping spectators while flanked by senior officials, including his powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, and crowds in the stands using colored cards to spell out “To the eternity of Korea, hurrah!” as fireworks exploded over the stadium.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said it couldn’t confirm whether North Korea was pausing the mass games.
State media often report scoldings by Kim of military officials, factory operators, educators and others perceived to be not performing to his standards. The mass games — propaganda spectacles that feature thousands of gymnasts, dancers and flip card-holding spectators moving in coordinated perfection — were once routine in North Korea. But the performances went on a hiatus for several years during the mourning for Kim’s father and only returned last year.
Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.