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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
An upcoming new tourism complex to be built in North Korea’s Wonsan-Kalma coastal area this year will feature high-rise hotels and other leisure facilities, state-run outlet DPRK Today reported on Friday.
“The Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area will be constructed this year in accordance with the far-reaching plan of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK),” the vice-director general of the DPRK National Tourism Administration – whose name is not given – said in an interview with the outlet.
The interviewee said the country would be able to meet demand from both domestic and foreign tourists by establishing new facilities near Kalma International Airport.
“The multi-story and high-rise hotels with unique shape, accommodations and independent facilities providing services will form one street along the coast at the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area,” the vice-director general said.
“Everything including cinemas, outdoor theater, comprehensive amusement arcade and indoor swimming pool will be established.”
The site area of the tourism district is larger than Mirae Scientists Street in Pyongyang, the outlet reported, adding it would be developed as the “tourist city that can boast to the world.”
A photo released in October 2015 of Mirae Scientists Street revealed that its total area was around 389,500 square meters.
“The national culture experience zone – where our nation’s long history, excellent cultural traditions, and elegant and civilized customs – will be established distinctively,” the interviewee said.
Shops selling flowers, newspapers, and marine sports equipment – as well as a bike rental system – will be built. Planners also intend to widen the seashore and establish a walking path.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his new year’s speech called for the people and service personnel to complete the construction of the Wonsan-coastal tourist area “in the shortest period of time.”
Friday’s state media article confirms earlier reports in the Seoul-based Daily NK, as well as satellite imagery spotted by the U.S.-Korea Institute’s Curtis Melvin, concerning the rapid pace of the construction.
The DPRK Today said the new tourist area would connect other destinations to the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone, the blueprint for which was released in September 2014.
The report also said the new tourist district could be midway point for tourists visiting the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported in January that resorts would be built “on a large scale.”
“Now, a preparatory work is brisk for completing the construction of the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area, a radical turn in putting the country’s tourism on a world level,” KCNA said.
The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers Party of Korea (WPK), reported on Friday that “tens of thousands of cement were produced” to be used in the construction of the area.
In mid-January, the newspaper reported that construction teams previously used in the work on Ryomyong Street project “have been already mobilized” to the field.
“People in the whole country have no doubt about that our credible builders can successfully complete the construction of the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area until the date set by the party by all means,” the newspaper said.
The construction project is also included in new posters intended to “encourage the army and people to the struggle for carrying out the tasks” called for by the leader in his New Year address, KCNA reported on Wednesday.
“Let’s construct Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area in the shortest time and at the highest level,” one poster read, while urging “self-reliance and strenuous willpower.”
Another poster urged “the entire party, army and all the people” to support the project.
State media archives suggest, however, that the project has been in works for over a year. KCNA in July 2016 suggested that the Kalma area “will be turned into a tourist resort” and touted its benefits for foreign investors.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Korea Central News Agency (KCNA)