North Korea is planning on building a replica of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower in a miniature theme park scheduled to open in the capital later this year.
Last year, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bring to an end decades of austerity and hardship with the slogan: “No More Belt-Tightening,” despite reports of mass starvation across the country. To that end, the country has kick-started a construction boom that has transformed Changjon street, in downtown Pyongyang and introduced such luxuries as cappuccinos, facials and tanning booths to the upper classes of North Korea. In addition to gussying up the shopping district, plans for Pyongyang also include a “miniature world” park, which will also boast a replica of London’s Big Ben clock tower and Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The theme park is slated to open later this year, according to the Associated Press, the only Western news organization allowed to operate inside the secretive state.
This interest in Western landmarks may come as a surprise to those who may have viewed a recent North Korean propaganda video showing the White House in flames, or noted North Korea’s increasingly fiery rhetoric towards South Korea and the United States. However, news of the latest attractions at the theme park comes just a few weeks after China Daily reported North Korea is building a mini-golf park in the capital as part of efforts to boost tourism.
Despite the apparent changes taking place in North Korea, the country remains desperately poor, plagued with widespread food shortages. As the Associated Press put it, “life is grindingly tough.” Last month, the United Nations reported that over 2.8 million North Koreans needed regular food assistance, while a quarter of the country’s children suffered from chronic malnutrition.