North Korea is known for its repressive and dictatorial policies. Yet recently it welcomed tourists and runners from abroad to participate in a marathon.
In an effort to gain greater mileage among the world community, and erase its past image of draconian policies with respect to human rights, Pyongyang held a marathon. Foreigners of every hue were present on the occasion.
Most of them were tourists who just wanted a chance to see the secretive country. The runners were sweating as they raced past the crowd many of whose members high-fived them.
Over 27 nations sent their representatives to the event. Thousands upon thousands of North Koreans lined up on either side of the road to watch the spectacle. This is the first time in history that the Pyongyang marathon has been opened up to foreigners and tourists.
It is indeed a very major relaxation of the rules. The bad human rights record of the dictatorial country may just be getting a makeover of sorts.
The winner among the men’s event was Pak Chol. He crossed the finish line huffing and puffing. His total time was two hours, 12 minutes and 26 seconds. Meanwhile, Kim Hye Gyong and Kim Hye Song who were twin sisters came first and second in the female event respectively.
It’s been about three decades since the event has been going on. The event also commemorated the founder of the country, Kim II Sung’s birthday. It was a time of festivity and everyone including the natives had lots of fun.
The 42,000 onlookers were treated to a selection of wonders. They were thoroughly entertained till their senses were saturated. Under the able guidance of the youthful Kim Jong-Un, the nation has adopted a slightly softer approach in its foreign policy.
However, some strictures remained even at such a merry event. No flag-bearers were allowed. And cameras were absolutely banned. Maybe a little more liberalization would do the North Koreans a whole lot of good.
North Korea marathon opens to international... by itnnews