North Korea has changed the April Spring Friendship Art Festival from an annual event to a biennial one.
Reporting on the celebration of “The First National Art Festival for Sun’s Day” on March 23, Chosun Shinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published by Chongryon (the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan), said, “North Korea has decided to hold the National Art Festival for Sun’s Day every other year and celebrate it in rotation with the April Spring Friendship Art Festival.
The April Spring Friendship Art Festival is a large scale cultural event, celebrated annually to mark the Sun’s Day (Kim Il Sung’s birthday). The festival was created in 1982 to commemorate Kim Il Sung’s 70th birthday and since then has been celebrated every year except the year 1983
The Spring Festival invites the world’s famous artists and art groups for the purpose to advocate the system of North Korea. In 2007, the British opera singer Susannah Clarke and the U.S. Christian Band “Casting Crowns” were invited to the festival and sang “Amazing Grace” and “White Dove Fly High,” a popular song of North Korea.
In 2001 and 2002, South Korean singer Kim Yon Ja who has built her career in Japan was invited to the festival and performed at the Pyongyang Grand Theatre. Kim received a hearty welcome and even had a chance to meet Kim Jong Il after her concert. She sang North Korean songs, “Nice to Meet You” and “Whistle” and South Korean songs, “Hwangsung Old Castle,” “The Blue Tuman River,” and drew a big applause from the North Korean audience.
North Korea will celebrate “National Art Festival” with North Korean artists this year. Chosun Shinbo said that the national art festival, which is to be held for the first time this year, is dedicated to the people and the celebration will be unprecedentedly magnificent in terms of scale and content. In next year, the biennial Spring Festival will be held with international artists.
“The regime must have been spending a considerable amount of money on the Spring Festival considering the fact that the festival is grand in scale and the authorities usually provide all expenses for foreign artists,” said North Korean defector named Moon, now a resident of Yangchun-gu, Seoul in a phone interview with Daily NK. Moon added. “The regime seems to be running short on foreign currency and that is way it changed the annual festival into a biennial event.”
Moon said, “The regime used to say to people that the world’s famous artists have come to Pyongyang to celebrate the Dear General’s birthday. That it reduced the scale of the festival tells that it is running tight on money.“
North Korea’s first “National Art Festival” is scheduled to be held from April 10 to 18 in Pyongyang.