◆ A shortage of participants in the card section due to dropouts

There are also many dropouts amongst the students participating in the card section. There are usually 5 students for every 70 participants who are trained in reserve but more are now needed as an increasing number of children are dropping out due to hunger and disease, such as flu and colon infection.

There are 12 cafeterias and stalls set up around the May Day Stadium where participants can go to buy a quick bite to eat during rehearsal breaks. Children without money, however, have no choice but to rest and continue on an empty stomach.

Participants mobilized from the provinces are managed in a military-style manner. Since they are not allowed to leave the shared accommodation and have no personal time, they call to complain to their parents over the phone.

◆ An unusual suspension after criticism by Kim Jong-un

The gymnastics group was scheduled to continue performances into early October. However, as a main attraction for tourists on package tours, the contents of the mass games must first be carefully reviewed and reported to Kim Jong-un. But, on the day of the first performance, the mass games were suspended after receiving criticism from the leader.

The reason for the unusual suspension of the performances is not entirely clear. It is possible that Kim Jong-un, upon watching the spectacle, criticized the performance for its shortage of participants. It is also possible that the performances were suspended under the pretext of the leader’s criticism, as there is little guarantee of a stable supply of meals for participants during the long schedule of performances.

North Korea’s mass games have long been criticized for “making a spectacle” of abused children and students.

※ ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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