As he plots the next moves in his rogue nuke and missile programmes, North Korean despot Kim Jong Un is constructing one other immense show of power just down the road from where his military tests the prohibited rockets that've brought the US and North Korea to the brink of war.
The rogue leader has been building a knockoff Spanish resort in the seaside town of Wonsan, a vacation spot that appears to be Kim's attempt at a North Korean take on President Trump's Florida getaway.
Experts say Kim Jong Un's glamorous makeover of the city is part of the dictator's grand strategy to improve his country’s economic development -- ensuring his regime’s survival.
Wonsan, situated along the coast and east from Pyongyang, is already a popular destination for North Korean families to enjoy summer activities, Reuters reported. It’s also a place where Kim has ordered several new structures: an airport, ski resort and five-star hotel.
The construction continues alongside the rocket tests -- there've been nearly 40 launches in the area.
Kim first announced new developments in Wonsan in 2014. The proposal stated the building of “world-class facilities including an ultra-luxurious five-star hotel called the Wonsan Hotel," according to the North Korean Economy Watch. But, showcasing the dual nature of the regime, the North Korean leader also held the country’s largest artillery drill in April at a nearby beach, Reuters reported. About “300 large-caliber self-propelled guns” opened fire at targets on an island about a mile away.
Kim wants North Korea to prosper more than the country did under his father, Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011.
Kim and his top officials have signaled the Hermit Kingdom is close to “completing” its goal of developing the ability to strike the US mainland with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Wednesday a nuclear deterrent was the “real balance of power with the United States.” Delury said once they achieve the goal, Kim’s strategy is expected to shift to economic development through tourism.
The North Korean delegation also looked closely at Marina d'Or, a resort in Oropesa del Mar that claims to have "endless luxury services at your fingertips" and Europe's largest scientific seawater spa. They eyed the theme park Terra Mitica, hinting at a possible replica being built in Wonsan. The spokesman said they filmed some locations, possibly for future planning -- and re-creation -- in Wonsan.
North Korea wants to increase the number of tourists by 1 million people each year, eventually bringing in between 5 million to 10 million “in the foreseeable future,” according to Reuters. However, the recent death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster and released by North Korean officials with severe brain damage, could deter that goal.
The US State Department issued a new warning in August, telling travelers not to travel to North Korea “due to the serious and mounting risk of arrest and long-term detention of US citizens.”