Russia has completed construction of a $10.4 million water park in collaboration with North Korean overseas workers, North Korean state media reported on Wednesday.
North Korean Consul General in Vladivostok Lim Cheong Il, as well as personnel from the Kamchatka Territory Administration, attended the completion ceremony on December 30, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
“In cooperation… with the DPRK, the building of water park was finished in Kamchatka, Russia,” KCNA added.
North Korean and Russian national flags were hung, and a signboard bearing the names of the two countries was placed at the event.
On December 30, the government of Kamchatka Krai announced the completion of the new water park, named “Wonder Island.”
Wonder Island is one of the largest water parks in Russia’s Far East region and is located in the Yelizovski district of Kamchatka. The facility can accommodate 700 people and recreation and entertainment complexes contain slides for adults and children, as well as cafes and saunas.
The project began in February 2014, the local administration said on an official website.
“We were assisted by ‘skilled workers’ from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to build this place. They worked very hard for two years, and we’re seeing the results of their work today,” Alexander Vetchinov, owner of Wonder Island, said at the ceremony.
50 North Korean workers arrived in the region back in 2014, but a total of 181 workers from the North took part in the project, local outlet Kamchatka Today (Камчатка Сегодня) reported on December 30.
Local media also said that Vladimir Ilyukhin, Governor of Kamchatka Territory, and North Korea’s local representative Lim Cheong Il had met in Vladivostok for the first meeting on the project in June 2013.
“We are ready to expand economic ties between the Kamchatka region and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea considering the particular interest of the Russian government in the development of the Far East,” Kamchatka Today reported in December, quoting Governor Ilyukhin.
“The government of the Kamchatka Territory and representatives of the business community in Kamchatka are willing to consider the proposals [suggested by] the Korean side and to provide all possible support.”
Lim also told the governor that the North was interested in expanding bilateral cooperation into the “fishing industry and restaurant business.”
A Russian North Korea watcher based in Seoul argued that the rare statement by the DPRK on the country’s overseas workers may not “have any special political meaning whatsoever.”
“But if it does have such meaning, the intended message is to emphasize the inefficiency of the sanctions and pressure, to tell the world and also the domestic audience that ‘North Korea has friends and partners and we are doing okay,’” Andrei Lankov, Professor of Korean Studies at Kookmin University and an NK News contributor, said.
In mid-December, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on North Korea’s human rights situation by consensus, which “explicitly” raised concerns over the exploitation of North Korean overseas workers.
A 49-year-old North Korean worker died in hospital on January 9 after a fight with residents of Biryulya village in the Republic of Tatarstan on New Year’s Eve, multiple Russian media outlets, including Interfax and Kazan24 reported on Tuesday.
Five North Korean workers assaulted a Russian after locals invited North Korean workers to share champagne. After a group fight, the Russian victim brought friends to take revenge and one North Korean worker fell into a coma, local media added.
It is estimated that more than 50,000 North Korean workers work throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
The vast majority are currently employed in China and Russia, according to a report by Marzuki Darusman, former UN Special Rapporteur on North Korean human rights, entitled “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and submitted last year.
Featured Image: Kamchatka Territory Administration