August 19, 2009 08:27
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il invited former U.S. President Bill Clinton to watch the "Arirang" mass gymnastic show with him, Radio Free Asia claimed Tuesday, but Clinton changed the subject.
Clinton was apparently warned by the U.S. State Department before leaving for North Korea to decline the offer if Kim invited him to see the propaganda show, which has attracted criticism for subjecting the mostly young performers to a punishing regime of identical moves.
Larry Niksch, an Asia specialist at the U.S. Congressional Research Service, told RFA this might be due to the fact that former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was criticized for watching the performance during her visit to the North in 2000.
Many prominent foreign figures who visit North Korea are invited to the "Arirang" performance, and by televising their attendance, the North Korean regime consolidates its authority.
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