It ‘s going to be creativity and persistence that will get the world through the current financial crises it’s enduring. Our Dear Leader, KimJong-il, has finally come to the party too and ventured into the tourism business: North Korea’s first cruise ship is here. It’s old and a bit of a joke, but a start none-the-less.
The vessel itself is nearly 40-years-old, rusty, sleeps eight to a room, has tap water that looks like tea and is called the Mangyongbong.
It’s provisional cruising route takes place along the less dangerous east coast and you’ve nothing to fear because, according to Hwang Chol-nam:
You’re in North Korea here. You’re completely safe. The North Korean military is protecting you.
A little earlier this month, the first trial trip was completed packing in Chinese tourists and businesspeople sharing their quarters with North Korean officials and foreign journalists.
It’s naturally going to be kept close to Our Dear Leaders heart because cruise operator, Taepung International Investment Group, falls under the National Defense Commission, which answers directly to the North Korean leader.
Park Chol-su, president of Taepung:
I love peace and the Korean Peninsula. Our company symbolises peace. We can even hire Americans.
China is supposedly going to be North Korea’s biggest tourist market for now, and according to John Delury, a historian at Yonsei University in Seoul who observes relations between the two Koreas and China, we’re probably looking at a Cuban type socialist strategy:
Tourism was a major factor that allowed Cuba to weather the end of the Soviet trading system after the cold war. Of course, North Korea can’t rival tropical Cuba as a tourist destination, but Pyongyang’s embrace of bringing in foreign visitors is a positive sign of willingness to integrate more fully with the outside world.
Meals were apparently served army base style: metal trays and utensils under fluorescent lights. Supper was diced chicken obliged with buffet-style cucumbers and lunch, an assortment of instant noodles. Nice.
Waitresses just chucked the leftovers overboard while the wind blew bits of rubbish back onto the deck.
Here’s a short video depicting life on board:
Like the usual cruise ship activities, the trip involved a few stops, most notably one at a well-manicured golf course.
Another stop occurred at a hotel just around the corner from the South Korean border and you could go hiking or watch an acrobatics show. Of course, there was also a North Korean-style duty-free shop at the hotel. In it, you could even purchase discounted homegrown Viagra made from antler.
Stunning. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it gang?
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