U.S. citizens will be allowed to visit DPRK as tourists next month to attend the famed Arirang Mass Games, the organizer of the tours said Thursday.
Koryo Tours, a Beijing-based firm specializing in travel within DPRK, said Pyongyang has granted it permission to take American citizens into the country for the first time in three years. U.S. nationals are usually not granted tourist visas due to animosity between the two nations.
Three tour groups will head to the North between Oct. 1 and 18. It is only the third time for U.S. citizens to be allowed to visit the country as tourists. Koryo Tours took about 100 Americans to Pyongyang in 2002.
The focus of the four-day tour program will be the mass games, which the tour company describes as "the biggest choreographed socialist realism spectacular on earth."
The carefully choreographed stadium show involves 100,000 performers, thought to be a world record, and is based on the historic love story "Arirang." It features a massive mosaic formed by 16,000 students turning the pages of books that make up the backdrop to each scene.
"This is the most significant Mass Games we have ever prepared," the tour company quoted a DPRK official as saying. "We are mobilizing more performers than before, it is more ambitious and on a larger scale than anything we have previously done to honor our leader, country and heroic armed forces."
The tour will also include visits to the ancient former capital of Kaesong and the northern side of the heavily fortified military border with South Korea.
Koryo Tours has been taking tourists into DPRK since 1993 and is run by Nicholas Bonner, who has also produced two acclaimed documentaries shot in the North.