Kim Jong Un Envisions Tourist Haven at His Summer Retreat

North Korean leader has big plans for Wonsan: Mud baths and live missiles
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2017 2:32 PM CDT
Pastel-colored homes line the foot of a mountainous backdrop along the Pyongyang-Wonsan highway in North Korea.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
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(Newser) – If Kim Jong Un has his way, the port city of Wonsan, North Korea, will someday be a mecca for tourists. Reuters reports on Kim's ambitious plans for the resort city, which serves as his own summer retreat and, by some accounts, was where he was born. UN sanctions on the North may be far-reaching, but tourism is one of the few areas left untouched by them, and Pyongyang is trying to woo foreign investors to put money toward the Wonsan Special Tourist Zone. The 150-square-mile zone already has a ski resort and an airport, but Kim also envisions a $7.3 million department store, a $197 million city center development, and a $123 million golf course, write Ju-min Park and James Pearson in the special report. But there's one odd twist: While Kim sings the praises of the area as a haven for tourists, he's also using it to launch missiles.

“It may sound crazy to outsiders to fire missiles from a place he wants to develop economically, but that’s how Kim Jong Un runs his country,” says an expert on North Korea from Kyungnam University in South Korea. Wonsan holds a special resonance for North Koreans, because it is where the nation's founder, Kim Il Sung, landed with Soviet troops in 1945 before seizing control of the country. “He has strong political reasons to develop Wonsan,” says another North Korea researcher, one who happens to have been born in Wonsan before defecting to South Korea. Click for the full story, which digs into the tourism brochures boasting of mineral springs, natural lakes, and "more than 3.3 million tons of mud with therapeutic properties for neuralgia and colitis.” (Read more North Korea stories.)

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