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1,100 foreigners expected in N. Korea's marathon event

All News 10:36 April 09, 2016

SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- More than 1,000 foreigners are expected to join the international marathon to be hosted by North Korea this weekend despite tougher U.N.-led sanctions on the communist nation, according to a figure known to have some related information.

Singaporean photographer Aram Pan, who specializes in North Korea tour photography, said on his Facebook account recently that 1,100 foreign runners from 49 countries will participate in the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon to take place in Pyongyang on Sunday.

Seven hundred North Koreans will also take part in the event, he added on the "DPRK 360" page without specifying the source of the information.

Adding some credibility, however, was a reply to the account from DPRK News Service operated by the North's authorities.

If true, the number of foreign participants will mark nearly double that of last year's competition, which drew 650 foreigners from around 30 nations.

In spite of the international community's drive to impose harsher sanctions on North Korea, its regime has eagerly sought to promote the upcoming international event through foreign tour agencies.

It was launched in 1981 to commemorate the 69th anniversary of Kim Il-sung, the late grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong-un.

The North opened the contest to foreigners in 2014.

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