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Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un toured a recently completed luxury river cruiser in Pyongyang and named it “Mujigae” (rainbow), state media said on Monday.
The multi-floor vessel, spotted under construction by NK News in September last year, contains restaurants, bars, a coffee shop, roof deck and even sushi-conveyor belt-style dining area, pictures published in Monday’s Rodong Sinmun showed.
Kim Jong Un “appreciated the installation of a peculiar round lift and the construction of round stairs, adding that the revolving restaurant on the third floor looks spectacular and it is fantastic to command a bird’s-eye view of Pyongyang from it,” the KCNA said about his visit.
The vessel, which KCNA said could serve up to 1,230 guests in facilities distributed over four stories, was ordered by Kim Jong Un to start service before October 10.
October 10 is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) and is expected to be a major celebration.
Nearby where the Mujigae has been moored, photos obtained by NK News last week indicate the construction of a large-scale floating video display.
“It’s rumored that there will be some kind of aquatic performance in the center of the river, whether this will happen at the same time as the military parade or the torch parade though isn’t known,” Simon Cockerell, general manager of the Beijing-based Koryo Tours told NK News of the intended purpose of the new display area.
With Kim Jong Un ordering the Mujigae to be ready for use by October 10, it appears likely that it will be used for observation activities along the river on the anniversary date.
But the vessel is so large that it cannot actually do anything but sail between the nearby Okryu Bridge and Taedong Bridge, being too high to pass under either and access other parts of the river.
Although a large example of a river cruiser, the bow section is too low to operate in exposed offshore seas, meaning ocean use of the vessel would never be possible.
Tourism industry professionals contacted by NK News earlier in the year did not yet know if the cruiser would be available for foreigner use.
“Now the DPRK has two large restaurant boats to serve central Pyongyang,” said Curtis Melvin on Monday, a researcher at the U.S. Korea Institute in Washington, D.C.
“This boat is approximately 119m long. The slightly older Taedonggang Restaurant Boat is nearly 70m long,” he said. “A sarcastic person may note that it appears the demand for river dining in Pyongyang is at an all-time high!”
Since Kim Jong Un assumed power in late 2011, North Korea has been placing unprecedented efforts at constructing or renovating leisure facilities, many of which are often advertised to foreign visitors.
Pictures: Rodong Sinmun