World

Ice-skating festival held as usual despite Kim's death

PYONGYANG: Less than two days after the assassination of the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, small girls in frilly pastel leotards opened an ice-skating gala in Pyongyang to honour the late father of both men.

The Paektusan Prize International Figure Skating Festival is held every year to celebrate the late Mr Kim Jong Il.

With no announcement of the death by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, the majority of yesterday's audience at the ice rink would have been oblivious of the killing of Mr Kim Jong Nam by poison in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

But for anyone who was aware, some elements of the programme could have appeared darkly ironic. One early number was set to Pink Floyd's Hey You. Lyrics: "Hey you, out there in the cold, getting lonely, getting old."

In another, a skater performed a pistol-shot gesture to James Bond-like theme music.

Serried ranks of around 3,000 officials in dark uniforms packed the arena, with other sections filled by women wearing colourful hanbok.

The performers included double Olympic gold medallist and triple world champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia. - AFP

North Koreadancemedia