August 27, 2007 / 9:43 AM / in 11 years

North Korea halts showcase mass games due to flood

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Monday it had suspended its yearly showcase Arirang mass games after widespread flooding left more than 600 dead or missing and destroyed thousands of buildings in the impoverished country.

A view of the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang, May 4, 2007. North Korea said on Monday it had suspended its yearly showcase Arirang mass games after widespread flooding left more than 600 dead or missing and destroyed thousands of buildings in the impoverished country. REUTERS/Nora Stribrna

Arirang is the world’s biggest choreographed extravaganza with as many as 100,000 participants, much of it homage to leader Kim Jong-il and his dead father Kim Il-sung who founded North Korea’s communist dynasty.

It is part circus act, part rhythmic gymnastics and features a massive flip-card animation section.

“It has now become hard to continue the performance as working people in different parts of the country are all out to recover from the flood damage these days,” the official KCNA news agency reported.

The performance will resume after the flood damage has been cleared away, it said.

Earlier this month, the North boasted that Arirang had been recognised by Guinness World Records as the biggest event of its kind.

In recent years, the North has tried to spin money out of the mass games by opening up the reclusive state to foreign tourists to watch one of the many performances.

Flooding in the southern half of the country has left more than 300,000 homeless and wiped out more than 11 percent of the land for grains and maize in a country that already battles chronic food shortages, international aid agencies have said.

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