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North Korea stages public air show

September 24, 2016

North Korea has put on its first public air show of commercial and military aircraft. The event was held at the resort town of Wonsan and is part of a larger effort to attract more tourists.

Nordkorea Flugschau in Wonsan
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/W. Maye-E

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Saturday marked the beginning of the International Friendship Air Festival in North Korea. The event, held in the coastal town of Wonsan, features displays from aircraft in North Korea's military fleet.

The first aircraft on display was a US Hughes MD-500 military helicopter, acquired through a third country in the 1980s in order to get around restrictions on US exports to North Korea.

North Korea air show
A Hughes MD-500 helicopterImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/W. Maye-E

The two-day event was attended by domestic and foreign tourists and is being covered by the international press. Other displays included a flight by a Russian-made MiG-29 aircraft, which is considered to be the most advanced plane in North Korea's fleet.

Wonsan's Kalma Airport hosted the event. The airport was previously a military institution but had recently been converted to a commercial airport. The airfield was opened to the public for the event – a rarity in North Korea.

North Korea air festival off to a flying start

It was promoted internationally in a move to draw more tourists to North Korea, where the tourism industry has suffered under international sanctions.

The AFP news agency noted that some of the aerial moves, such as low-altitude passes directly over the crowd, would not be permitted at air shows in other countries.

mz/jlw (AP, AFP)