Wonsan – a billion-dollar resort and ‘shooting range’ of North Korea

Wonsan - a billion-dollar resort and 'shooting range' of North Korea 2

On the beach of Wonsan city, Korean families are having BBQ parties, fishing, eating ice cream and enjoying the summer breeze.

Lim Eul-chul, an expert on North Korean economics at South Korea’s Kyungnam University, said: `This may sound crazy to outsiders that Kim Jong-un launches missiles from a place where he wants to develop his economy.`

Wonsan – a billion-dollar resort and ‘shooting range’ of North Korea

Wonsan city and Kim Jong Un’s ambitions.

National book

Many experts believe that tourism and nuclear weapons are the top national policies for North Korea to survive.

Tourism brings abundant revenue to North Korea.

Advertising leaflets invite foreign investors to spend money on business projects worth 1.5 billion USD of the Wonsan Special Tourist Area, with a total area of up to 400 square kilometers.

Wonsan - a billion-dollar resort and 'shooting range' of North Korea

Ski resort in Wonsan

The ski resort is heavily invested in but still lacks customers in North Korea.

An advertising leaflet states that the new tourist area has about 140 historical relics, 10 beaches, 680 tourist attractions, 4 mineral bathing springs, countless resorts, natural lakes and more than 3.3 tons of therapeutic mud.

Mr. Kim is inviting investors to build a shopping mall worth $7.3 million, a city development center worth $197 million and a golf course worth $123 million, including $62.5 million in land rental fees.

Earlier this year, Kim Jong Un sent 16 officials to Spain to find ideas for designing Wonsan.

A spokesman for the North Korean Embassy in Madrid, Spain confirmed that these officials saw the above works with their own eyes and recorded them.

No foreign investors have confirmed they will participate in North Korea’s project in Wonsan.


North Korea wants to attract more than a million international visitors a year in the near future, and about 5 to 10 million visitors in the `foreseeable` future, according to a promotional leaflet about Wonsan.

There are currently no accurate statistics on the number of visitors to North Korea.

Wonsan - a billion-dollar resort and 'shooting range' of North Korea

Children play on the beach of Wonsan city, 200 km east of Pyongyang.

The Korea Maritime Institute, a private organization, estimates that tourism brings about $44 million in annual revenue to North Korea, accounting for about 0.8% of total GDP.

Promotional leaflets about Wonsan have very welcoming content: `North Korean officials and people in this area understand tourism well, and are very friendly with tourists.`

Since April, North Korea has used a beach near Wonsan’s new airport to launch a series of ballistic missiles.

The `darling` of the North Korean leader

Wonsan holds the symbolic power of the Kim family’s power: In this city, the late president Kim Il-sung founded the Korean state since Japan withdrew from the country.

Kim Young-Hui, head of the North Korea economic research team at the Korea Development Bank in Seoul, said that Kim Jong-un had some achievements when he was chosen as the new leader in 2009. If Mr. Kim has

`He (Kim Jong-un) has strong political reasons to bring Wonsan forward,` Ms. Young-Hui commented.

Michael Spavor, a Canadian advisor who had a private conversation with Kim Jong-un on a yacht in 2013, said Wonsan holds a special place in the North Korean leader’s heart.

Wonsan - a billion-dollar resort and 'shooting range' of North Korea

Kim Jong-un chats with Michael on the North Korean leader’s private yacht in Wonsan.

`He told me about redeveloping and improving the whole city for the people and attracting tourists and international businessmen to the area,` Mr. Michael revealed.

Visitors to Wonsan are taken to the large square to bow and place memorial plastic flowers at the foot of the giant statue of the two late presidents of North Korea.

Events in the past

Wonsan Resort is not North Korea’s first project to develop tourism and military in parallel.

Korean visitors have the opportunity to hike and sightsee in the pristine countryside of North Korea.

However, one morning in July 2008, a North Korean soldier shot and killed a 53-year-old South Korean woman for allegedly trespassing on military land.

North Korea said the South Korean military turned on the loudspeaker to warn, but the ill-fated female tourist did not pay attention, even when North Korean soldiers fired warning shots.

Wonsan - a billion-dollar resort and 'shooting range' of North Korea

Kumgang Mountain Resort was empty after inter-Korean relations deteriorated in 2011. This was chosen as a reunion place in 2015 for families separated during the inter-Korean war (1950-1953).

South Korea stopped all tours.

Lee Jong-heung, owner of a brewery, restaurant and many duty-free shops, said he invested $6 million in the Kumgang resort.

Seoul asked North Korea to open an investigation, send an official apology and ensure that no similar incidents will occur.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea needs to ensure the safety of South Korean citizens before the government considers resuming tours to the neighboring country.

Pham Huyen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *