North Korea will temporarily suspend the latest edition of its famous mass games after the premiere drew strong criticism from leader Kim Jong Un, according to international travel agencies.
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 on Monday while its creators make adjustments.
#MassGames news – from June 10th there will be a pause for some days/weeks while the show is adjusted before being launched again – we wait to see what will change and when it will restart – watch this space! #KoryoTours #NorthKorea pic.twitter.com/fWg7NP12pl
— Koryo Tours (@KoryoTours) June 5, 2019
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,” he said.
— Young Pioneer Tours (@YPioneerTours) June 5, 2019
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Mr Kim seriously criticised the creators for a “wrong spirit of creation and irresponsible work attitude” after Monday’s opening performance at Pyongyang’s 150,000-seat May Day Stadium.
KCNA said Mr Kim set forth “important tasks” to correctly implement the country’s revolutionary policy on literature and art.
The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos of Mr Kim waving to clapping spectators while flanked by senior officials, including his powerful sister Kim Yo Jong. Crowds in the stands using coloured cards to spell out “To the eternity of Korea, hurrah!” as fireworks exploded over the stadium.
State media often report scoldings by Mr Kim of military officials, factory operators, educators and others perceived to be not performing to his standards.
The mass games — propaganda spectacles with thousands of gymnasts, dancers and flip card-holding spectators moving in co-ordinated perfection — were once routine in North Korea.
But the performances were paused for several years during mourning for Mr Kim’s father and only returned last year.