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.