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North Korea to halt Mass Games after Kim fury: tour firms

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Seoul (AFP)

North Korea will temporarily suspend its spectacular "Mass Games" propaganda displays from next week, travel agencies said Wednesday, after leader Kim Jong Un censured the show's content.

This year's show, titled "The Land of the People", had its premiere on Monday and was expected to run until October.

But Kim Jong Un "seriously criticised" the performance creators for "their wrong spirit of creation and irresponsible work attitude", the official KCNA news agency reported, and travel agencies operating tours to the isolated North have since been told that the displays would be "temporarily halted".

Koryo Tours was told that from June 10 "the Mass Games will be paused while some adjustments and alterations take place", general manager Simon Cockerell told AFP.

No timescale for a resumption had been given, he added.

The "Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance" features enormous numbers of people -- mostly students and children -- performing synchronised moves.

Behind them, thousands of others turn the coloured pages of books in sequence to create an ever-changing backdrop of giant images rippling across one side of the stadium.

Photos from the opening night at the cavernous May Day Stadium showed flag-waving and hoop-throwing performers packed around giant flowers on the arena floor.

"We are one!" the backdrop spelled out over a bed of flowers forming a rainbow and a silhouette of the entire Korean peninsula.

Another slogan read: "Thank you, Father Kim Jong Un!"

It is not known what raised Kim's ire but some observers noted that his portrait was used as a backdrop image, along with pictures of his grandfather and father, the North's founder Kim Il Sung and his successor Kim Jong Il.

It is rare for portraits of Kim Jong Un to be shown publicly and no statues of him are known to exist.

When the North's state broadcaster KCTV reported on the show Tuesday it did not carry any footage of Kim's portrait, although it did show him attending the performance with his wife Ri Sol Ju.

Young Pioneers Tours, another travel company, tweeted that the suspension was "due to #KimJongUn dissatisfaction with the opening performance".

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