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the hot wind of sports

Creepily perfect pictures from North Korea, the sport and leisure capital of the world

North Korea has been on a building binge since its young leader, Kim Jung Un, came into office. Some of his top priority projects? A ski resort, a “miniature world” park that includes replicas of London’s Big Ben and France’s Eiffel Tower, and basketball courts, skating rinks and video arcades around the capitol, Pyongyang.

On one hand, these trappings of western recreation are likely meant to show the outside world how progressive—and fun!—of a country is North Korea. On the other, it’s probable the parks are equally important for improving how the country looks from the inside. Over the past few months, the North Korean government has been encouraging citizens to get more interested in sports, in hopes recreation will energize and mobilize the populace. Officials have called this “the hot wind of sports blowing through Korea.”

The majority of the North Korean population will likely never set foot in the planned luxury ski resort or fly in a plane leaving from Pyongyang’s new airport. But there is a small and growing population of North Koreans earning money from the underground economy who are able to spend on small luxuries that could include a videogame or two.

Here are some photos of the government’s efforts to bring recreation to the masses, including a new water park that appears to have now opened, according to state media photos released earlier this week.

North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency released this undated photo of an opening ceremony of the Munsu Water Park. Reuters/KCNA
Reuters/KCNA
Reuters/KCNA
Reuters/KCNA
Reuters/KCNA
Locals watch a 3D movie at the Rungna People’s Pleasure Park in Pyongyang. AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
Pyongyang residents playing bumper carts. AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
Children skate at a newly built recreation park in Pyongyang. AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
A man plays tennis at a new park in Pyongyang AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
A sign near construction of the Masik Ski Resort reads: “Full attack. March forward. Let’s absolutely finish building Masik Pass Ski Resort within this year by launching a full aggressive war and full battle.” AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
The multi-million dollar ski resort is meant to include hotels, ​cable cars, and a helipad, It was slated to open on Oct, 10 AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
Pyongyang recently accused Switzerland of “serious human rights abuse” for refusing to sell North Korea a ski lift. The country has been unable to buy ski lifts because of international sanctions placed on the country. AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
A swimming pool at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang. Reuters/KCNA
Synchronized swimmers perform during a celebration for the birthday of the late Kim Jong-il. Reuters/Kyodo

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