PYONGYANG, North Korea – Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh took the stage in North Korea during a concert for new leader Kim Jong Un, in an unusual performance featuring Disney characters.

Performers dressed as Minnie Mouse, Tigger and others danced and pranced as footage from “Snow White,” “Dumbo,” “Beauty and the Beast” and other Disney movies played on a massive backdrop, according to still photos shown on state TV.

The inclusion of characters popular in the West — particularly from the United States, North Korea’s wartime enemy — is a notable change in direction for performances in Pyongyang. Actors and actresses also showed off new wardrobes, including strapless gowns and little black dresses.

In recent years, performances such as the “Arirang” mass games featured performers dressed as panda bears in homage to North Korean ally China.

This appears to be the first time Disney characters have been included in a major performance, though Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse have been popular among children for several years. Backpacks, pencil cases and pajamas imported from China often feature Disney characters, and stories such as “Dumbo” have been translated into Korean for North Korean schoolchildren. However, it is unusual to make such images a central part of a North Korean performance and to publicize it on state TV.

Zenia Mucha, the chief spokesperson for The Walt Disney Co., said the use of Disney characters in the North Korean performance was not authorized by the U.S. entertainment company.

“This was not licensed or authorized by The Walt Disney Company,” Mucha said.

U.S. sanctions prohibit the import of North Korean goods to the United States, but do not ban the sales of American consumer products in North Korea unless they involve officials or companies on the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions blacklist.

The performance was staged Friday by the Moranbong band, which was making its debut after being assembled by Kim himself, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim, who took power after his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, died in December, has a “grandiose plan to bring about a dramatic turn in the field of literature and arts this year,” KCNA said.

Ringo turns 72 in moment of ‘peace and love’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 1960s mop top is gone, but Ringo Starr is still flashing a peace sign.

The former Beatle marked his 72nd birthday in Nashville on Saturday by holding a “peace and love” moment at noon. He asked people worldwide to do the same at 12 o’clock in their time zones.

The idea came to him in 2008 when an interviewer asked him what he wanted for his birthday. Since then, he’s held events each year in cities such as New York, Chicago and Hamburg, Germany.

“It’s sort of catching on more and more, the more we do,” Starr said before the festivities. “We got lots of blogs from Japan and China and all over the world saying, ‘We did peace and love.’ So it’s working.”

Hundreds of fans joined Starr at Hard Rock Cafe, shouting “peace and love” at the magic hour and holding two fingers in the air. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” and the chorus of “Give Peace A Chance.”

Spider-Man spins theater turnstiles

LOS ANGELES – Your new friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield, has spun himself a $65 million opening weekend and $140 million in his first six days at U.S. theaters.

Overseas, “The Amazing Spider-Man” added $129.1 million, raising its international total to $201.6 million and worldwide haul to $341.2 million since it began rolling out a week earlier in some foreign markets.

The movie started off as a smaller domestic moneymaker than the previous three Spidey films, but it laid to rest objections that it was too soon to relaunch the superhero franchise.

— From news service reports