North Korea Vows To Host Mass Games Despite High Tension

by VR Sreeraman on Jul 10 2009 2:34 PM

North Korea vowed Thursday to host its Arirang festival -- the world's largest mass performance -- this year, despite high regional tensions sparked by its nuclear test and multiple missile launches.

The festival will be staged at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang from August 10 to late September, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The announcement comes as the communist country is engaged in a standoff with the international community over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Last Saturday the North test-fired seven missiles in an apparent show of defiance against tougher UN sanctions imposed for its May nuclear test.

North Korea has held the festival intermittently since 2002, attracting more than 1,000 Western tourists each time.

It features more than 100,000 performers in a 90-minute display of gymnastics, dance, acrobatics and dramatic performances, accompanied by music and other effects in a highly politicised package.

Arirang has demonstrated the "invincible might of Songun (army-first) Korea in which the army and people are rallied close around leader Kim Jong-Il," KCNA said.

"The group of creators and performers are successfully pushing forward its re-representation at a final phase," it said, adding that schoolchildren have been practising daily for the festival.

Koryo Tourism, a tour agency based in Beijing, which organises trips to see the festival, said on its website that outsiders could see "the most amazing spectacle."