N. Koreans unhappy with Arirang show
By Park Si-soo
A growing number of North Korean people are discontent over a widespread rumor that their regime is considering continuing a massive propaganda show for foreign tourists until 2015.
The North Korean regime had said the performance, Arirang, would end next year thus also ending the forced mobilization of hundreds of thousands of citizens as performers.
“Many people in Pyongyang are upset by the rumor that Arirang might be performed until 2015,” Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted an unidentified Chinese source who recently visited Pyongyang as saying. “They say it’s hard to understand the reason for possibly keeping the show going, which nobody watches.”
The non-profit radio station headquartered in the United States reported that many Pyongyang citizens openly criticized the regime for extending the run of the show indicating a loss in people’s confidence in the regime.
Arirang was first performed in 2000 to mark the 90th birthday of the North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung, father of the current “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.
Since 2007, it has been staged at a giant stadium in Pyongyang, every August, to boast the country’s totalitarianism and socialist values to foreign tourists, most from Western countries.
RFA reported the performances involve deep-rooted corruption and a wide gap between the haves and have-nots in the communist nation.
It said children of high-ranking officials in the North’s Workers’ Party skip regular practices for the show after bribing its organizers, while other children undergo laborious rehearsals under the sizzling summer heat.
A former North Korea bureaucrat in Seoul said the extension, if confirmed true, seems to have been initiated by the North Korean regime for a “smoother power succession” to Kim Jong-un, a son of Kim Jong-il, by “further uniting its people” at a time when the country is grappling with an acute food shortage.
Early last month, North Korea launched direct flights routes linking Shanghai and Pyongyang.