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N. Korea seen following social distancing measures at theaters

Performance in Pyongyang marking Mother's Day on Monday. (KCNA-Yonhap)
Performance in Pyongyang marking Mother's Day on Monday. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Koreans left every other seat empty at theaters this week in an apparent social distancing measure against the coronavirus pandemic, according to state media photos.

Photos released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Tuesday showed several performances in Pyongyang marking Mother's Day on Nov. 16, with empty seats in between audience members as part of social distancing measures.

A performance at the Pyongyang Circus Theatre showed every other seat empty at the center of the theater hall, while all seats on both sides of the hall were left empty.

This contrasts with the mass gymnastics performance held last month to celebrate the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Thousands of North Koreans gathered at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang to celebrate the mass games despite the country's nationwide campaign against COVID-19.

The North's signature mass gymnastic shows, initially scheduled to be held until the end of October, however, appear to have been suspended after the first performance amid virus concerns.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free, but it has been relatively swift with its antivirus campaign by closing its border earlier this year and toughening quarantine measures.

Kim has since called for strong anti-pandemic measures, declaring a state of emergency in January and adopting a stricter "maximum emergency system" in July.

In a politburo meeting of the Workers' Party on Sunday, he stressed "the need to keep a high alert, build a tight blocking wall and further intensify the anti-epidemic work." (Yonhap)
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