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Damin Jung was an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked at the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Korea Chair.
North Korea’s capital will hold its first fall season international marathon event this October, tour agencies have confirmed.
“The route and the race will be different from the April marathon but we are expecting more locals to participate in this fall marathon, which will make it a very authentic experience,” Andrea Lee, CEO of Uri Tours, told NK News on Wednesday.
Uri Tours initially said in a Facebook post earlier in the month that the event would take place on October 22, but the date has now been pushed back to October 29.
“We think that Pyongyang is expanding this event because of the popularity of the April marathon and also at the request of foreign tour operators, including Uri Tours,” Lee said on Wednesday.
Both Uri and the Young Pioneers Tours (YPT) group have released travel packages for the October marathon event on their websites, but Koryo Tours, the official agency for Pyongyang’s long-running April marathon event, has chosen not to be involved.
Koryo Tours’ General Manager Simon Cockerell told NK News on Wednesday that the October marathon is not affiliated with the April event and is not recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“It is a race organized by the DPRK Sports Ministry (as with the April one) but it is not the Pyongyang marathon which we have worked to raise the legitimacy and standard of (with great success), it is not IAAF recognized, and it is not the same course either,” Cockerell said.
“We’ve declined to be involved in this October Marathon this time around due to its being arranged not to the standard of the April race which we are deeply involved in,” Cockerell said, adding, however,that “it would be good to see more races take place in the DPRK that foreigners can also take part in.”
The April Pyongyang Marathon, known officially as the “Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon,” has been running for more than 30 years.
Amateur runners have been allowed to participate since 2014.
U.S. citizens are banned by Washington from participating in the fall event, due to a travel ban announced by the State Department on August 1 which comes into effect on September 1. Journalists, aid workers and individuals heading to North Korea to represent U.S. national interests, however, will be exempt from the ban.
North Korea’s foreign ministry has condemned the travel ban as a U.S. plot intended to restrict personal exchanges.
“The U.S. administration took this childish measure of issuing a travel ban to our country while finding fault with the exercise of the legitimate right of the sovereign state,” a spokesperson for the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on August.
“We will always leave our door wide open to any U.S. citizen who would like to visit our country out of good will and to see the realities with their own eyes.”
Edited by: Oliver Hotham
Featured image: northkoreatravel, Flickr creative commons
North Korea's capital will hold its first fall season international marathon event this October, tour agencies have confirmed.
"The route and the race will be different from the April marathon but we are expecting more locals to participate in this fall marathon, which will make it a very authentic experience," Andrea Lee, CEO of Uri Tours, told NK News on Wednesday.