Travel agents confirmed earlier this week that the second annual Wonsan Air Festival, held at Kalma Airport in Wonsan, North Korea, has been cancelled due to rising nuclear tensions between North Korea and western countries, specifically the United States.
The Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival, commonly called simply the “Wonsan Air Festival,” is the only organized air show in the rather mysterious country, making it one of the only things uniting people of the country with outsiders from other countries.
In 2016, the shows first year, the Korean People’s Army Air Force displayed their fleet, which includes Sukhoi Su-25, MiG-21, and MiG-29 combat aircraft. Last year, the show welcomed hundreds of foreigners to view the fleet, which included over 100 Americans. With tensions between the two countries now at an all-time high, organizers of the event had no choice but to cancel this year’s edition. The North Korean Preperatory Committee cited “current geopolitical circumstances” as the primary reason for the cancellation, along with “uncertainty” and “recently upgraded travel warnings” as other reasons.
The U.S. recently issued a travel ban for Americans entering North Korea after American student Otto Warmbier died in a coma after being held in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang for over a year. Just this week, the North Korean military launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile that flew over Japanese airspace, raising concerns that the country is progressing in their campaign to get a nuclear missile all the way to the mainland U.S.. Dictator Kim Jong Un has also expressed in recent months that the American territory of Guam is on their radar, which is well within range of a missile like the Hwasong-12.
Travel blogger Sam Chui was able to attend Wonsan last year for the inaugural event:
This year, the event was expected to see even more types than the previous year, such as the Antonov An-2, An-24, An-148, Ilyushin IL-18, IL-62, Il-76, MD-500, MiG-15, MiG-21, MiG-23, Mil Mi-8, Sukhoi Su-25, Tupolev TU-134, TU-154, and the Yak-18.
North Korean tourism agencies were offering bundles to attend the show for international travelers, priced between EUR 1,475 per person to 2,405 per person, depending on your stay and origin destination. Bundles begin from the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenyang, and the Russian city of Vladivostok.
Featured photo from Sam Chui.