Archive for the ‘Hoteling’ Category

The new Majon Hotel

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

UPDATE: With a big hat tip to Korea Beat, I have located the new Majon Hotel in North Korea.  See a satellite picture of it here.  Here are some pictures  of the inside c/o the Choson Ilbo.



According to the Choson Ilbo:

North Korea on Monday celebrated the completion of what it has hailed as a “world-class” hotel in the Majon resort area in Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, North Korean Central Broadcasting reported Tuesday.

The broadcast said the Majon Hotel “is equipped with top-class accommodation and recreation facilities such as an indoor swimming pool, a steam sauna, a public bath, and even a beach resort.”

Although it did not specify the size, the broadcast called the hotel a “creation that illuminates the era of the Korean Workers’ Party,” suggesting it is relatively luxurious.

The completion ceremony was attended by key leaders of the party, the government and the military, including People’s Armed Forces Minister Kim Yong-chun, party Secretaries Kim Ki-nam and Choe Thae-bok, and Prime Minister Kim Yong-il.

In a congratulatory speech, Kim Ki-nam said the hotel was “another proud creation built thanks to leader Kim Jong-il’s love of the people in the military-first era.”

The Majon resort area where the hotel is located is famous throughout North Korea. It has a sandy beach park 6 km long and 50-100 m wide along the east coast and 16 recreational buildings, 13 public buildings, and a boy scout camp — all on an area measuring some 3 million sq. m.

Here is the official KCNA press coverage:

Majon Hotel Completed

Pyongyang, July 28 (KCNA) — Modern Majon Hotel sprang up at the Majon recreation ground in Hamhung City, a good destination of holiday makers.

The hotel has all modern cultural and welfare facilities such as bedrooms of various sizes and styles, restaurants, indoor swimming pool, saunas and bath facilities. It has also a bathing resort. This is another edifice to be proud of in the era of Songun, a product of General Secretary Kim Jong Il’s love for the people as he has always worked hard to provide people with better conditions for their recreation.

A ceremony for the completion of the hotel was held on the spot on Monday.

Present there were Premier Kim Yong Il, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Kim Yong Chun, Secretaries of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Choe Thae Bok and Kim Ki Nam, department directors of the C.C., WPK, officials concerned and employees of the hotel.

Kim Ki Nam in his speech at the ceremony underscored the need for the staff of the hotel to steadily improve the service so that Kim Jong Il’s boundless love may reach people as quickly as possible.

At the end of the ceremony the participants looked round the interior and exterior of the hotel.

Here is the location of the beach.  Some travelers have been there, but photos of the area remain scarce.  If anyone comes across a photo of the hotel, or can identify the exact location, please let me know.  Parts of the beach and surroundings are still not in high resolution on Google Earth, so this also complicates the discovery of the hotel’s location.

Read the full stories here:
N.Korea Completes ‘Luxury’ Resort Hotel
Choson Ilbo



North Korea on Google Earth v.18

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

North Korea Uncovered version 18 is available.  This Google Earth overlay maps North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks.

This project has now been downloaded over 140,000 times since launching in April 2007 and received much media attention last month following a Wall Street Journal article highlighting the work.

Note: Kimchaek City is now in high resolution for the first time.  Information on this city is pretty scarce.  Contributions welcome.

Additions to this version include: New image overlays in Nampo (infrastructure update), Haeju (infrastructure update, apricot trees), Kanggye (infrastructure update, wood processing factory), Kimchaek (infrastructure update). Also, river dredges (h/t Christopher Del Riesgo), the Handure Plain, Musudan update, Nuclear Test Site revamp (h/t Ogle Earth), The International School of Berne (Kim Jong un school), Ongjin Shallow Sea Farms, Monument to  “Horizon of the Handure Plain”, Unhung Youth Power Station, Hwangnyong Fortress Wall, Kim Ung so House, Tomb of Kim Ung so, Chungnyol Shrine, Onchon Public Library, Onchon Public bathhouse, Anbyon Youth Power Stations.


North Korea Google Earth

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

North Korea Uncovered v.16
Download it here


The most recent version of North Korea Uncovered (North Korea Google Earth) has been published.  Since being launched, this project has been continuously expanded and to date has been downloaded over 32,000 times.

Pictured to the left is a statue of Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This statue, as well as many others identified in this version of the project, was built by the North Koreans. According to a visitor:

From the neck down, the Kabila monument looks strangely like Kim Jong Il: baggy uniform, creased pants, the raised arm, a little book in his left hand. From the neck up, the statue is the thick, grim bald mug of Laurent Kabila (his son Joseph is the current president). “The body was made in North Korea,” explains my driver Felix. In other words, the body is Kim Jong Il’s, but with a fat, scowling Kabila head simply welded on.

This is particularly interesting because there are no known pictures of a Kim Jong il statue.  The only KJI statue that is reported to exist is in front of the National Security Agency in Pyongyang.  If a Kim Jong il statue does in fact exist, it might look something like this.

Thanks again to the anonymous contributors, readers, and fans of this project for your helpful advice and location information. This project would not be successful without your contributions.

Version 16 contains the following additions: Rakwon Machine Complex, Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory, Manpo Restaurant, Worker’s Party No. 3 Building (including Central Committee and Guidance Dept.), Pukchang Aluminum Factory, Pusan-ri Aluminum Factory, Pukchung Machine Complex, Mirim Block Factory, Pyongyang General Textile Factory, Chonnae Cement Factory, Pyongsu Rx Joint Venture, Tongbong Cooperative Farm, Chusang Cooperative Farm, Hoeryong Essential Foodstuff Factory, Kim Ki-song Hoeryong First Middle School , Mirim War University, electricity grid expansion, Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground (TSLG)” is also known as the “Musudan-ri Launching Station,” rebuilt electricity grid, Kumchang-ri suspected underground nuclear site, Wangjaesan Grand Monument, Phothae Revolutionary Site, Naedong Revolutionary Site, Kunja Revolutionary Site, Junggang Revolutionary Site, Phophyong Revolutionary Site, Samdung Revolutionary Site, Phyongsan Granite Mine, Songjin Iron and Steel Complex (Kimchaek), Swedish, German and British embassy building, Taehongdan Potato Processing Factory, Pyongyang Muyseum of Film and Theatrical Arts, Overseas Monuments built by DPRK: Rice Museum (Muzium Padi) in Malaysia, Statue de Patrice Lumumba (Kinshasa, DR Congo), National Heroes Acre (Windhoek, Namibia), Derg Monument (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), National Heroes Acre (Harare, Zimbabwe), New State House (Windhoek, Namibia), Three Dikgosi (Chiefs) Monument (Gaborone, Botswana), 1st of May Square Statue of Agostinho Neto (Luanda, Angola), Momunment Heroinas Angolas (Luanda, Angola), Monument to the Martyrs of Kifangondo Battle (Luanda, Angola), Place de l’étoile rouge, (Porto Novo, Benin), Statue of King Béhanzin (Abomey, Benin), Monument to the African Renaissance (Dakar, Senegal), Monument to Laurent Kabila [pictured above] (Kinshasa, DR Congo).

Pyongyang remodeling underway

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 08-11-17-1

North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang appears to be getting a facelift. The (North) Korean Central Broadcasters has reported that a city beautification project is underway in Pyongyang.

An apartment-erecting crane is building a new skyscraper, while construction has been restarted on the 16-year old remains of the shell of the Ryukyung Hotel as large-scale construction equipment and barges crowd the river as piles of construction materials can be found at each construction site.

Pyongyang insiders report that efforts getting underway in this anniversary year marking 60 years since the founding of the country are part of an effort to make Pyongyang a completely new city by 2012, when the North will mark the 100th birthday of its eternal president, Kim Il Sung.

Pyongyang is being developed as a ‘showcase capital’ for international visitors to the poverty-stricken North, as the North Korean people refer to Pyongyang as the ‘capital of the revolution.’

Recently, South Korean representatives from organizations providing aid to the North have reported being been surrounded by new construction of hotels and other buildings and the refurbishment of older buildings such as the Pyongyang Grand Theater.

What is curious is that the origin of the capital needed for these large-scale construction projects appears to indicate growing investment from foreign enterprises. The Ryukyung Hotel construction is reportedly being supported by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company.*

A South Korean entrepreneur recently in Pyongyang quoted a Pyongyang official as saying, “The Ryukyung Hotel will be complete within three years,” and that the Daedong River Hotel construction was almost in the finishing stages with the help of foreign investment.

In January of this year, the Egyptian wireless communications company Orascom announced it would invest 400 million USD in order to construct the North’s first wireless communications network.

Also, North Korea’s foreign trade appears to have grown this year, especially because, as energy demand has sharply increased, the North’s export of mined materials to China appears in early calculations to have expanded considerably.

* NKeconWatch: This is the first I have heard about a UAE firm.  Previously, discussion centered only around Orascom.


The Short Happy Life of the Ryugyong Hotel

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Parallax Journal of International Perspectives
Volume V, No. 1, (Fall 2008)
Michael Madden

Download the PDF here: maddenarticle.pdf

Abstract: Called the “Worst building in the history of mankind” by Esquire Magazine, North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel is one of the twenty tallest buildings in the world, despite being little more than a desolate concrete shell.  How the building came to be constructed and who constructed it becomes a small cultural history lesson on the secretive communist state.

About the author: Michael Madden studied writing with Stratis Haviaras and LArry Heinenmann, and spent several years under the tutelage of Christopher Ricks.  He is currently working on a satellite map of Pyongyang juring Japan’s annexation of the Korean Penninsula from 1910 to 1945.  Mr. Madden is a member of the association of Literary Scholars and Critics.  He works with the Office of the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts.


North Korea on Google Earth

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

North Korea Uncovered: Version 12
Download it here

mayday.JPGAbout this Project: This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, energy infrastructure, political facilities, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, national parks, shipping, mining, and railway infrastructure. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the 12th version.

Additions include: Tongch’ang-dong launch facility overlay (thanks to Mr. Bermudez), Yongbyon overlay with destroyed cooling tower (thanks to Jung Min Noh), “The Barn” (where the Pueblo crew were kept), Kim Chaek Taehung Fishing Enterprise, Hamhung University of education, Haeju Zoo, Pyongyang: Kim il Sung Institute of Politics, Polish Embassy, Munsu Diplomatic Store, Munsu Gas Station, Munsu Friendship Restaurant, Mongolian Embassy, Nigerian Embassy, UN World Food Program Building, CONCERN House, Czech Republic Embassy, Rungnang Cinema, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Pyongyang Number 3 Hospital, Electric Machines Facotry, Bonghuajinlyoso, Second National Academy of Sciences, Central Committee Building, Party Administration Building, Central Statistics Bureau, Willow Capital Food House, Thongounjong Pleasure Ground, Onpho spa, Phipa Resort Hotel, Sunoni Chemical Complex (east coast refinery), Ponghwa Chemical complex (west coast refinery), Songbon Port Revolutionary Monument, Hoeryong People’s Library, Pyongyang Monument to the anti Japanese martyrs, tideland reclamation project on Taegye Island. Additionally the electricity grid was expanded and the thermal power plants have been better organized. Additional thanks to Ryan for his pointers.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your contributions to this project.

Version 12 available: Download it here


Download glitch fixed: North Korea Google Earth (version 11)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
Download it here

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the eleventh version.

Additions include: Mt. Paegun’s Ryonghung Temple and resort homes, Pyongyang’s Chongryu Restaurant, Swiss Development Agency (former UNDP office), Iranian Embassy, White Tiger Art Studio, KITC Store, Kumgangsan Store, Pyongyang Fried Chicken Restaurant, Kilju’s Pulp Factory (Paper), Kim Chaek Steel Mill, Chongjin Munitions Factory, Poogin Coal Mine, Ryongwun-ri cooperative farm, Thonggun Pavilion (Uiju), Chinju Temple (Yongbyon), Kim il Sung Revolutionary Museum (Pyongsong), Hamhung Zoo, Rajin electrified perimeter fence, Pyongsong market (North Korea’s largest), Sakju Recreation Center, Hoeryong Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Suwon reservoir (alleged site of US massacre), Sinpyong Resting Place, 700 Ridges Pavilion, Academy of Science, Hamhung Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, South Hamgyong House of Culture, Hamhung Royal Villa, Pork Chop Hill, and Pyongyang’s Olympic torch route. Additional thanks go to Martyn Williams for expanding the electricity grid, particularly in Samjiyon, and various others who have contributed time improving this project since its launch.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.  Additionally, this file is getting large and may take some time to load.


DPRK economy shrinks for second year: Bank of Korea

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

North Korea does not publish economic data.  The size of North Korea’s economy is estimated by South Korea’s Central Bank (Bank of Korea), the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and other think tanks such as the Sejong Institute (Lee Jong Seok)

According to a recent report by the Bank of Korea, North Korea sufferd its second full year of economic contraction (as defined by GDP), 1.1% in 2006 and 2.3% in 2007.  The bank estimates North Korea’s 2007 gross national income (GNI/GNP) at $26.7 billion, per capita GNP at $1,152 (assuming population of 23 million).  If you are interested in knowing the difference between GNP and GDP, click here.

Here are some highlights from the report:

Agriculture, forestry & fisheries marked a 9.4% decrease following a 2.6% decrease in 2006

Mining increased 0.4% in 2007, down from 1.9% increase in 2006

Manufacturing increased 0.8%, higher than 0.4% 2006 increase. -1.7% growth in light industry, due to the decrease in food products and beverages. +2.3% growth in heavy industries led by expansion of metal and machinery products.

Electricity, gas & water production increased 4.8%, (+2.7% in 2006), from hydroelectric and steam power generation.

Construction production -1.5%, (-11.5% in 2006), from reduced non-housing construction and civil engineering.

Services +1.7%, (+1.1% in 2006). Hotel, restaurant, transport, post & telecom industry expanded.

Trade volume (goods) fell 1.8% to $2.941 billion, 1/248 South Korea’s. Exports fell 3.0%, imports fell 1.3%.

These estimates are based on trade figures obtained from the Korea International Trade Association, Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, fuel and food aid figures from aid groups such as the International Red Cross and the World Food Program, as well as information provided by frequent visitors.

More information here:
Full report by Bank of Korea  and data (recomended)

North Korea’s Economy Shrank in 2007, Second Annual Contraction
Heejin Koo


Former DPRK embassy to become hotel

Friday, April 4th, 2008

As has been chronicled before on this website, North Korean embassies generally secure their own  operating funds.  Although this might seem odd to western observers, it is an innovative model that has its benefits (i.e. the embassies earn a profit and economic considerations play a large role in determining whether an embassy is worth the cost).  There is also a downside to this model, and that is that more than one North Korean diplomat has been caught in some sort of shady smuggling or tax avoidance scheme.

The staff at the DPRK’s embassy in Germany, however, have been quite entrepreneurial in managing their real estate holdings.  They are converting their old offices into hotel space:

The Cityhostel Berlin will initially have 37 rooms at a charge of 20 Euros ($31) per head a night, Sankei reported. A reception with a grand piano is being built and a Korean restaurant is due to open in May, the newspaper said.

The embassy buildings, occupying 8,160 square meters (87,788 square feet), were built in the 1970s during the Cold War and are located in old East Berlin, Sankei said. Staff numbers at the embassy were cut after the Cold War ended and the building being converted was previously leased to corporations, Sankei said.

Update 4/5/2008:
From the Daily Telegraph:

A spokesman for the North Korean embassy dismissed the reports as Japanese propaganda, however.

“The rumours about this hostel are based on Japanese media reports, but they are not correct,” the spokesman said.

“The Japanese media are very much influenced by their government and they probably gave out this wrong information because they are our enemies.”


On its website, City Hostel notes that it signed a contract in December to occupy the building, which it describes as “formerly the consulate of North Korea”.

Read the full articles here:
North Korea Converts German Embassy Into Hostel, Sankei Reports
Hideko Takayama

Enjoy your stay… at North Korean embassy
Daily Telegraph
Harry de Quetteville


North Korea Google Earth (Version 7)

Friday, December 14th, 2007

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
North Korea Uncovered v.7
Download it here

koreaisland.JPGThis map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the sixth version.

Additions to the latest version of “North Korea Uncovered” include: A Korean War folder featuring overlays of US attacks on the Sui Ho Dam, Yalu Bridge, and Nakwon Munitians Plant (before/after), plus other locations such as the Hoeryong Revolutionary Site, Ponghwa Revolutionary Site, Taechon reactor (overlay), Pyongyang Railway Museum, Kwangmyong Salt Works, Woljong Temple, Sansong Revolutionary Site, Jongbansan Fort and park, Jangsan Cape, Yongbyon House of Culture, Chongsokjong, Lake Yonpung, Nortern Limit Line (NLL), Sinuiju Old Fort Walls, Pyongyang open air market, and confirmed Pyongyang Intranet nodes.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.