Kim Jong-Un has criticised the annual Mass Games as having the ‘wrong spirit of creation’ in a remarkable attack on one of North Korea’s most important cultural occasions.
The North Korean dictator blasted the unsatisfactory “contents and forms” of the ceremony and “seriously criticised” its designers, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Mr Kim, who on Monday observed a performance at the 150,000-seat May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, observed that artists “have a very important duty in socialist cultural construction” and ordered that the designers of the showpiece event “correctly implement the revolutionary policy of our Party on literature and art”.
Mr Kim’s comments were interpreted by some North Korea watchers as a blast at foreign influences on the spectacle that is promoted as the highlight of any tourist visit to the nation.
The dictator said in April he not tolerate “others ways’ and manners” in any sector, including culture, noted analyst Rachel Minyoung Lee at North Korea News.
“I’m inclined to think the work wasn’t Korean enough,” said Ms Lee, despite the typical extravaganza of propaganda images extolling North Korea and the Kim family.
Emanuel Pastreich, president of the Seoul-based Asia Institute, said Mr Kim’s outbursts may be an indication that he wants to step out of the shadows of his father, Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the much-revered founder of the nation.
“He is apparently using the Mass Games as a part of his strategy and by changing something that has not changed in years then he believes he is establishing himself as a credible leader."
Thae Yong-ho, the diplomat who defected from the North Korean embassy in London in 2016, last week called on Western tourists to boycott the Mass Games because of the brainwashing and forced labour of the children taking part in the performances.
“Every year North Korea gives this mass gymnastic display. You should know that it means the children, aged from six to nine, cannot go to school for six months – it’s a forced exercise,” he said.
Meanwhile, rumours continue to swirl about a purge of senior members of the regime.
Kim Yo-jong, Mr Kim’s sister, sat beside her older brother at the Mass Games after being out of the public eye for more than 50 days.
Reports had suggested that she had angered her brother for failing to anticipate the failure of the summit with President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February.
Kim Yong-chol, a diplomat who was instrumental in talks with the US, also reappeared on Sunday, refuting rumours that he had been sent to a political re-education camp.
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