In recent years, North Korea has received attention for its provocative behavior towards neighboring countries and its desire to prove itself on the technologically and militarily scale, increasingly pushing itself ‘emerging nation’. Last year’s infamous set of failed Windows XP-powered missile launches didn’t help.
More recently, there has been a clear shift towards North Korea presenting itself not as a country of restriction and famine, but one of rising social and cultural prosperity. A prime example of this would be the public release of pictures of fully-fledged amusement parks and public amenities. Just what North Korea’s intentions behind all of this are remain a bit of a mystery, but one cannot help wonder exactly what type of facilities are on offer and how they compare to the rest of the world in terms of quality and convenience.
In 2012 our reporter, Kuzo, stayed in North Korea’s Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyan. Read about his impressions of the hotel and the room he stayed in below!
This is the view from Kuzo’s room. Peeking out the window, he commanded a superior view of the hotel’s surroundings and city below. The midwinter season created a snowscape where the ground below was covered in a striking white blanket that created “a pleasant atmosphere in it’s own right”.
Kuzo writes: “The hotel itself shaped up pretty well, however I couldn’t help but notice the sense of desolation. Regardless of this, I spent my time comfortably without any problems. The inside of the hotel was furnished with all the trimmings you would expect from a high class international hotel: a massage parlor, pinball hall, table tennis room, restaurant, and bowling arena were all provided in their full glory.”
Although our intrepid reporter traveled alone, the room he stayed in was furnished with twin beds. He admits on reflection that it would have been better if there were a large double bed but that this really wasn’t a problem as such. He also adds that the all round level of hygiene was impressive and the design of the room itself was in many ways reminiscent of a Japanese business hotel.
“Admittedly, the bathroom was a bit of a letdown. The space was particularly on the restricted side, and muddy-brown water poured out of the tap. When you consider that a lot of European countries are not much different when it comes to water issue, though, I guess you can’t complain too much.”
In terms of amenities- toothbrush, body soap, shampoo and conditioner were all provided. If you felt inclined, you could even take a peek into North Korean society by switching on the provided TV. Channels were in Korean but there were even- perhaps a little on the unexpected side- broadcasts of animations and dramas.
The reporter heard many rumors that spy cameras or wiretaps were lying in wait for unexpected visitors of the hotel, but taking a snoop around he couldn’t find anything unusual. Thinking about it, even if there were some form of ‘secret in-room surveillance’, unless you were a trained pro, I’m sure you wouldn’t even know what you were looking for.
“If I had another chance to stay in North Korea, I think I’d like to try a different hotel. Of course, this all is all on the basis that I’m granted re-entry into the country; when it comes to North Korea, it’s hard to predict the next course of events.”
[ Read in Japanese ]