In October 2013, North Korean military personnel and party officials stood sternly at the opening ceremony of the latest venue meant to display North Korean wealth and devotion to their Dear Leader: a water park.
Said Premiere Pak Jong Ju of the new water park, “[It] is the edifice built thanks to Korean Peoples’ Army service personnel’s spirit of devotedly carrying out any project and their fighting traits as they are ready to flatten even a high mountain at a go-in-hearty response to the order of the supreme commander.”
Located in east Pyongyang, Munsu Water Park covers about 37 acres of land, features a smorgasbord of both indoor and outdoor attractions, and has been called the “creepiest water park you’ve ever seen” by The Washington Post.
And rightfully so. In addition to an assortment of indoor and outdoor pools and waterslides, Munsu Water Park houses a volleyball court, rock climbing wall, cafe, bar, hair salon, and a life-size plaster statue of the late Kim Jong Il (below), which greets guests as they enter the lobby. In fact, the only thing missing is large crowds of scantily clad swimmers—which makes sense, seeing as most people can’t afford to visit the park.
Although officials claimed that the park was built to ensure that the “party’s warm love for the people reaches the working people and school youth and children,” reality says otherwise.
Many North Koreans can barely afford to meet their basic needs, so aside from the uber-wealthy, relatively few people visit the water park. Still, large, elaborate construction projects like Munsu are a way for North Korea to “show the world” its wealth and power—and remind its citizenry that the revolution hasn’t failed.
Let’s just say that in North Korea, nothing—not even a water slide—is out of propaganda’s reach.