Christmas canceled in North Korea
The proposed first Christmas celebration in North Korea has been postponed after plans for 20 travelers to visit the country over the holidays were canceled. Beijing-based Taedong Travel had negotiated for a Christmas Eve trip for 20 people, during which time a private Christmas party was expected to be held after a day of sightseeing. The tour was supposed to include visits to North Korea's Arch of Triumph, enormous bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at Mansudae, the Juche Tower, and "the world's deepest subway system." Although Christmas is treated as a normal workday in North Korea, the traveling group would have celebrated privately in their accommodations.
Stuart Leighton, founder of Taedong Travel, explained the cancelation: "There have been general tensions for a while now and I think people are worried when they read about what is going on in the region [...] People contacted us and quite a few filled in the application forms, but it looks as if they had second thoughts at that point," he said. "And the arrest of the American tourist has not helped either."
Only one person had completed the full application for the tour at the time of cancelation.