N. Korea cancels this year's Arirang Mass Games: travel agency
SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has canceled the annual Arirang Mass Games for the first time in eight years for unknown reasons, a China-based travel agency said Friday.
Designed to extol the governing Kim family, the massive gymnastics and arts performance was first held in 2002, the year marking the 90th birthday of North Korea's late founder, Kim Il-sung.
The event has taken place every year since 2005, except in 2006 when the country suffered from severe flooding, and are a popular spectacle in the reclusive country.
"We are sorry to confirm that there will be no mass games performance (in North Korea) this year," Koryo Tours said on its website, without further details. The tour company is specialized in organizing trips to the reclusive country.
Last year, Pyongyang held the event for more than two months from July, which also included characteristic military parades.
According to the Washington-based Radio Free Asia, the North needs more time to renew its festival programs in accordance with the changing leadership under young leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korean watchers also say the communist country will stage new ones next year marking the 70th anniversary of its independence from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and the foundation of its ruling Workers' Party of Korea.
The finale of North Korea's Arirang Mass Games staged in Pyongyang on Sept. 30, 2013. (Yonhap file photo)