중앙데일리

Floods fail to dampen North’s Arirang festival

Aug 22,2007
The show must go on. Despite a national emergency caused by flood damage, North Korea’s annual “Arirang” festival in Pyongyang is continuing as usual, the state media reported yesterday.
“Tens of thousands of people from all classes, including laborers, youngsters, students, Koreans living overseas and foreigners, visit the May 1 Stadium to see the annual grand mass gymnastics and artistic performances of Arirang,” Kim Keun-ryong, production director of the national Arirang preparation committee, said in an interview with Korean Central TV.
The North canceled the annual series of performances, which require about 100,000 participants per show, last summer due to similar flood damage. This year’s flood damage is believed to be greater than last year, and it prompted the North to postpone the inter-Korean summit that was scheduled to take place next week.
At a Blue House press briefing, Cheon Ho Seon, the presidential spokesman, said, “I believe the condition there is actually serious.”
Asked how Pyongyang could go ahead with the song and dance festival, Cheon said, “The North makes its own judgment about Arirang by taking into account its meaning and importance, so we do not have to comment on it.”
This year’s extravaganza is dedicated to the 95th birth anniversary of North Korea’s late founder Kim Il Sung. The summertime shows began on Aug. 1 and are to run until mid-October.
While most parts of Pyongyang, including many roads and hotels, were flooded, the stadium where the performance takes place is safe, sources well-informed about North Korean affairs said.
“The North probably wants to use the event to unify public opinion at the same time as it earns foreign currency,” a South Korean official said. “So it is hard for them to cancel the performances in mid-stride.”
Meanwhile, North Korea asked the South to provide construction materials and equipment for recovery work, the Unification Ministry said yesterday. Through its liaison contact at the truce village of Panmunjeom, the North asked for help in rebuilding roads and houses, adding “The South should make the decision on what and how much it will give.”
A Unification Ministry official said some portions of the highway between Pyongyang and Kaesong, which will be used by President Roh Moo-hyun for his summit trip in October, were also damaged and recovery work is urgent.
“After consulting with other ministries, we will decide on the aid,” Kim Nam-sik, the Unification Ministry spokesman, said, adding, “It will be about the same amount as the flood relief aid sent last year.” In 2006, the South provided 86.3 billion-won ($91.5 million) worth of goods to the North, including 10 billion-won worth of nongovernmental aid.
There are also concerns about a power shortage. North Korean media said power plants were damaged by the floods, and about 400 mines were flooded, a serious blow in coal-dependent North Korea.


By Yeh Young-june JoongAng Ilbo/ Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장