The Arirang Mass Games, a yearly spectacle in which thousands of gymnasts perform at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, will not be held this year.
The Beijing-based Koryo Tours publicized the news on Thursday after receiving information about the usually annual event from their partners in Pyongyang.
“Although disappointing this is not wholly unexpected as while they have been staged every year since 2007, the Mass Games are not a guaranteed annual event – and 2014 is not a year with any major anniversaries for the DPRK,” a statement published on the Koryo Tours website read.
But despite not being a guaranteed annual event the Arirang festival occurred every year since 2002, with the exception of 2006.
The official reasons behind the cancellations are unclear, though one expert told that it was important not to try and make too much of the development.
“I think that the stated explanation should be taken at face value in this case, in the spirit of the simplest explanation usually being the right one. If I were looking for evidence of impending state rupture, I wouldn’t look for it in the cancellation of the Arirang Mass Games” North Korea watcher Chris Green said.
Taking the name from a popular Korean folk story about a young couple who are separated by an evil land-lord, the Arirang mass games commemorate the founding of North Korea. The event usually opens with dazzling artistic and gymnastic events held in the Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, and runs from the August until September 10th.
According to the DPRK publication ‘Arirang’, “the extravaganza unfolds an epic story of how the Arirang nation of Korea, a country of morning calm, in the Orient put an end to the history of distress and rose as a dignified nation with the song Arirang”
Next year however marks both the 70th anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation as well as the creation of Worker’s Party, which will likely result in a rebranded version of the festival, Koryo Tours said.
Headline image: Flickr user gilad_rom
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