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Arirang Games cancelled

Pyongyang has announced that it will once again not stage the Arirang games in 2015.

The last Games were held in 2013.

No reason has been given but it is a blow for many tourists who travel to enjoy the spectacle.

It is thought other events, possibly the annual PyongYang marathon, are also going to be difficult for foreigners to attend this year.  Concerns over the spread of Ebola have made it difficult for outsiders to travel to the country.


New Year travels

As China celebrates its New Year, about 80 million people were traveling across the country on Monday alone this week.

Most went by road, according to government estimates. Just where people were travelling to was tracked thanks to the 350 million active users of one company’s smartphone map and other apps that use location positioning.

The period of heightened travel is considered 40 days long with most journeys being made from the eastern employment centres of Beijing and Shanghai and the southern group of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan.

Chinese New Year produces what is widely regarded as the largest human migration each year.


Cracks in the system

North Korea continues, slowly, to open its doors. Newspapers in South Korea report continued growth of capitalism in the country.

Since the collapse of the North's state-run food ration system, the authorities have been forced to phase it out in favour of independent small businesses. This is most commonly seen in the likes of open-air markets. While still technically illegal, farmers, workers and craftsmen are generally allowed to exchange their goods at these gatherings. Since these have proved successful over the last couple years, others are becoming more bold and entrepreneurial.

Papers report stories such as one market trader who managed to start his own textile factory after pooling money from his family and friends.

Legally, the company still belongs to the state, but the trader is in charge of hiring workers and oversees the entire business, from raw materials purchases to production, sales and even the distribution of profits. Each of the dozen or so workers at the factory earns around $50 (over a hundred times the ordinary salary in the North), with 30% of the factory's monthly revenues handed over to authorities in corporate tax.

Stories like these are encouraging news for us. We can praise God for the better standards of living for workers in such businesses, for the increasing opportunities foreigners (mostly Chinese) have to trade with and meet North Koreans, and more evidence of God working in this dark land.


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