Nkorea: Annual Arirang mass perfromance
SEOUL: North Korea has opened an annual festival featuring tens of thousands of performers praising the ruling Kim dynasty, amid reports this year's Arirang event will be the last.
The festival began Wednesday evening at Pyongyang's May Day Stadium with a display of "music, dances, gymnastics, acrobatics and ever-changing background", the official news agency reported Wednesday night.
The extravaganza, named after a famous Korean folk song, involves artists including young children performing synchronised acrobatics, dances and flip-card displays of politicised messages.
The impoverished communist state has drawn thousands of Chinese and other foreign tourists to the festival, which began in 2002 and became an annual event in 2007.
Performances this year are in honour of "the leadership of the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong-Un, holding President Kim Il-Sung and leader Kim Jong-Il in high esteem for all ages", the news agency said.
Slogans such as "Long live heaven-sent illustrious commander General Kim Jong-Un! were displayed and the stadium became a "huge sea of flowers and dances", it added.
Jong-Un took over as leader when his father Jong-Il died last December.
Jong-Il succeeded his own father and founding president Kim Il-Sung, who helped establish an all-pervasive personality cult around the family.
A Beijing-based tour firm which for years has organised trips to the North has said this year's Arirang festival, from August 1 to September 9, will be the last.
The North plans to present new shows with different themes beginning next year, Koryo Tours said in June. (AFP)