In case you thought firing off a nuclear test might be bad for a nation’s global reputation, North Korea has some exciting news: according to its Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), foreign tourists are flocking to the communist state.
Sure, officials don’t provide any actual numbers, only saying that the visits have grown since 2000, and markedly so since 2009, with the biggest spike coming from European visitors. Tourists are dazzled, the news agency claims, by the range of “shining, socialist accomplishments” credited to the ruling Kim family.
So, how might a fun-loving European traveler make the most of Pyongyang and it environs? There has been some buzz about the new water park Dolphinarium, as well as the 105-story, bizarrely triangular Ryugyong Hotel which may actually open this summer (only 24 years behind schedule).
Other points of interest include Kaeson Youth Park and Mangyongdae Fun Fair—which reportedly range from well-lit festivity to pitiful disrepair. Or, you could check out the State Circus, which one TripAdvisor user declared: “Excellent show, although some animal activists might object,” due to the “mangy” skating bear and other animal performers. Adding insult to disturbing injury, North Korea is no cheap getaway for foreigners: the guides one is required to hire when visiting the country typically work out to more than $300 a day—and that's before your hotel, meals, or tickets to the depressing skating-bear circus. Then there are those pesky ethical considerations that may cost you more than a few nights' sleep.