Several hundred foreign amateurs have take part in the Pyongyang marathon, but the crowd was half compared to that of last year.
This annual race is part of the celebrations marking North Korean founder Kim Il-sung’s birth in 1912.
A US travel ban and fears of nuclear war seem to have affected the numbers – this marathon is usually the peak time for Western tourists to visit.
At its peak, over 5,000 Western tourists used to travel to North Korea annually, a fifth of whom were American.
But ever since the US imposed a travel ban last year after the death of Otto Warmbier, an American who was detained and held in North Korea for 17 months after travelling there on holiday, the numbers have declined. Warmbier returned to America in June 2017 in a coma and died shortly afterwards.
The marathon started in the Kim Il-sung stadium before spreading to major landmarks in North Korea’s capital, such as Kim Il-sung Square and the new development project, Mirae Street.
North Korean Ri Kang-bom won the men’s full marathon in two hours, 12 minutes and 53 seconds.
Professional runners, including 13 competitors from African countries, ran in this elite category.
The women’s full marathon was won by North Korea’s Kim Hye-gyong with a time of two hours, 27 minutes and 24 seconds. Her twin sister, Kim Hye-song, came a close second.
The marathon is officially known as the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon.
Pyongyang began allowing foreign amateurs to run in 2014, and the event has ever since boosted tourism.
Tensions between the US and North Korea seem to have impacted on prospective entrants minds, but recent moves by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to calm the situation on the Korean peninsula, especially since the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, appears to have lessened some competitors’ fears.
Travel agencies said that they have seen an increase in marathon interest from tourists in recent months.
Tags: Pyongyang Marathon