A North Korean beer festival that was scheduled to take place in Pyongyang throughout August has been canceled at short notice, travel industry sources confirmed to NK News on Sunday.
The Taedonggang beer festival, which saw around 45,000 participants take part in its inaugural 2016 run, will be canceled this year for uncertain reasons, travel company officials told NK News.
“No official announcement has been made for why it’s been canceled,” said Rowan Beard, a tour leader with the Young Pioneer Tours agency.
“(However), I think it may have been canceled due to recent tensions between China and North Korea, because of the event being held by, sponsored and paid for by a Chinese enterprise,” he said.
The news comes days after it was announced that the U.S. would no longer allow its citizens to visit North Korea as tourists, but Beijing is yet to take any action that would prevent a beer festival from taking place.
Simon Cockerell, a tour guide with Koryo Tours, confirmed that no official reason had been given for the cancellation but said he suspected it could be linked to ongoing weather problems in the North.
“I speculate that it could be related to the ongoing drought,” he said. “There has been a lot of mobilization to combat that, plus the optics of the city folk having a jolly time while there is a drought going on aren’t great.”
A Pyongyang-based source said rumors had been spreading in the capital since Friday about the cancellation of the festival, even though tents meant for it had already started going up in the city.
The Taedong beer festival had been scheduled to run from July 26 to the end of August, state media said early in July.
“This festival will serve beers from number one to seven produced by Taedonggang Beer Factory and newly developed wheat beer with a variety of cuisine,” the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported at the time.
“During the period of the festival, the contest of tasting beer will be held, and a tour service of ‘Taedonggang’ cruise ship where guests have a pleasant time watching the night view of Pyongyang will be implemented.”
The inaugural festival took place adjacent to the river Taedong, with local beer drinkers and foreign tourists pictured enjoying snacks such as western bread, nuts, and indigenous chili peppers, alongside their beers of choice.
The beer festival had a nightly capacity of more than 700 people and lasted around 20 days, with visitors able to enjoy Taedonggang beer from 7 pm until midnight at the Taedonggang Restaurant Boat and around the wharf.
It is suspected that a follow-on beer festival designed to coincide with the forthcoming Wonsan Air Show in September will also be canceled, a tourist source told NK News on condition of anonymity.
It isn’t clear if Rason’s forthcoming “Czech pilsner” beer festival will also be impacted by the decision.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Uriminzokkiri
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