The 2017 Wonsan Air Show scheduled to take place in September has been canceled by the North Korean Preparatory Committee, an official email from organizers seen by NK News revealed on Friday.
The Air Show would have been the second such event and was scheduled to showcase aircraft from North Korea’s domestic airline – Air Koryo – as well as the North Korean military.
While the email does not outline a specific reason for the cancellation, it cites “current geopolitical circumstances,” “uncertainty,” and “recently upgraded travel warnings” by numerous countries regarding visiting North Korea.
The DPRK announced the event in March this year, following on from the inaugural air show held in September in Kalma Airport on the country’s east coast.
Although originally planned for every two years, the second event was scheduled for 2017 due to the first show’s success.
“The first year was very well received by enthusiasts and whilst initially we envisaged a biennial event, demand was strong for a 2017 follow-up,” David Thompson of Juche Travel Services told NK News in March.
North Korea flew its military aircraft and those of its national airline during the first Wonsan Air Festival, and – in a possible breach of sanctions – an aircraft manufactured by a company in New Zealand also made an appearance.
But the DPRK now faces a different and enhanced sanctions environment than it did in September last year, following an accelerated weapons testing schedule throughout 2016 and 2017.
The country’s domestic airline was sanctioned by the U.S. in December last year, while more recently Washington also banned its citizens from visiting the DPRK under most circumstances.
Washington’s Air Koryo designations mean that “U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons and listed aircraft,” according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
The DPRK may also be facing some disruption in its oil product supplies, with the U.S. Treasury Department designated Russian companies and individuals involved in supplying fuels to the DPRK.
Some reports indicate Beijing may also have suspended fuel sales, though recent Chinese trade confirms some oil products continue to flow across the border.
UN member states are also prohibited from supplying North Korea with jet fuel as of March last year, though it’s likely the DPRK can manufacture it domestically from crude oil it receives from China.
“It could be fuel supply problems, yes, but other reasons that occur to me are that due to heightened tensions related to the recent exchange of rhetoric between the U.S. and the DPRK,” David Von Hippel, a senior researcher at the Nautilus Institute of Security and Sustainability, told NK News.
The Air Show is the second significant event designed for tourists to be canceled this year following the announcement that a beer festival scheduled for August in Pyongyang would not be taking place as planned.
Additional reporting by Hamish Macdonald
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 485 words of this article.
Featured Image: Tu-154B Air Koryo by LEUKHIN_FEDOR on 2017-05-01 11:55:18