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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
In pictures: Arirang Festival
Thousands of North Koreans have begun a two-month gymnastics and artistic festival to celebrate the birthday of the nation's founder, Kim Il-sung.

The usually secretive country has invited foreign tourists to attend the festivities, although it has sold few tickets.

North Korea, where about half of the population is believed to be malnourished, is desperate for hard currency.

North Korean workers and students perform during the opening event of Arirang Festival
The performance will be held six days a week over the next two months

North Korean workers and students perform during the opening event of Arirang Festival
The first day coincided with the 90th anniversary of the late Kim Il-sung's birth date

North Korean dancers perform during the opening event of Arirang Festival
It will feature 100,000 performers - North Korea's largest ever performance

North Korean dancers form the shape of the Korean Peninsula during the opening event of Arirang Festival
Dancers form the Korean Peninsula - the North wants to reunite with the South

North Korean children perform during the opening event of Arirang Festival
Children have been rehearsing since last year

North Korean soldiers holding rifles march during the opening event of Arirang Festival
North Korea maintains the world's third largest army, with one million soldiers on duty

See also:

29 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea begins two-month 'spectacle'
26 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea gears up for festivities
26 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
South Korean envoy 'may meet Kim'
16 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea marks leader's birthday
10 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea faces 'looming' food crisis
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