Just take a walk down lonely street / to Haegumgang Hotel
October 23, 2019 5:50 PM   Subscribe

 
Someone is clearly feeling left out of world news at the moment.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:57 PM on October 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


If I'm reading this correctly, it's not the Haegumgang that's being razed (although maybe it is too), but the hotel buildings that were built by South Korean developers prior to the 2008 shutdown of South Korean tourism to the resort.
posted by Not A Thing at 6:33 PM on October 23, 2019


Doh, strike that, after doing "view source" on the NKNews article I can see the part that does mention Haegumgang. (Also, for those looking for more direct info, this is currently the top story on KCNA, complete with the English translation that NKNews is shamelessly cribbing, but KCNA doesn't seem to support permalinking anymore.)

I guess this is part of the same national tour where he climbed Paektusan on horseback? He definitely does seem to be making a political shift of some kind here.
posted by Not A Thing at 6:46 PM on October 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Hm, at the moment on Google Maps it's unclaimed as a business. Someone could, you know, claim it ... and ... do shit ...
posted by awfurby at 6:54 PM on October 23, 2019


Also, seeing Kim rant about hotel architecture really drives home the extent to which KJU is the North Korean DJT Trump is a wannabe Kim Jong-un.

I mean, the KCNA translation doesn't quite do it justice, but it would be so easy to render this into Trumpese:
He said that it was extremely wrong that a few blocks of such buildings reminiscent of temporary buildings at construction sites were set up for the tour of Mt Kumgang, the world-famous mountain. He added that in the past those concerned with construction built awkward-looking tourist service facilities only to damage the natural scenery. He said that due to the mistaken policy of the predecessors who tried to get benefits without any efforts after just offering the tourist area, the mountain has been left uncared for more than ten years to leave a flaw and the land is worthy of better cause. He made a sharp criticism of the very wrong, dependent policy of the predecessors who were going to rely on others when the country was not sufficient enough.
posted by Not A Thing at 7:00 PM on October 23, 2019


Well, if anyone knows about shitty hotels...
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:14 PM on October 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I visited there back in like 2007 or so, and as much as I hate to say it he has a point. It was a weird place, and not just because guards with whistles wouldn't allow you to walk anywhere outside the immediate vicinity. It was kind of a dump even back then, and I can't imagine that over a decade of sitting dormant has done it any favors.
posted by Literaryhero at 12:27 AM on October 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Also, seeing Kim rant about hotel architecture really drives home the extent to which KJU is the North Korean DJT Trump is a wannabe Kim Jong-un.

Trump is a poor person's idea of a rich person a Stalinist tyrant's idea of a capitalist tycoon?
posted by acb at 4:27 AM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


> but KCNA doesn't seem to support permalinking anymore

Oh man there are some unwieldy and antiquated HTML and Javascript patterns there. If it wasn't for the heavy leveraging of jQuery I could be convinced the website was developed in 2002.

Anyway, this sounds like an overture to Trump. I can't imagine why else Kim would give a rat's ass about this hotel in particular, it is hardly the only abandoned development in the DPRK. And if Kim had any actual interest in economic development he would be angling towards industry, not holiday travelers. It will be interesting to see what the quid pro quo looks like.
posted by at by at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine why else Kim would give a rat's ass about this hotel in particular

Kumgangsan (the "Diamond Mountain" of innumerable Joseon Dynasty poems and historical novels) and Paektusan (legendary origin of the Korean people) are sites with a level of Korean cultural significance that is difficult to adequately explain in American terms, but would be hard to overstate.

(By way of example, in addition to being the probably-spurious birthplace of Kim Jong-il, Paektusan/Baekdusan is literally the first word of the South Korean national anthem.) I'll leave any further commentary on that front to MeFi's many members of Korean heritage, but I don't think it can be a coincidence that KJU is having such uncharacteristically aggressive, splashy photo ops at these two particular sites.

Without having the inside track on Pyongyang palace politics, it's impossible to really know what might be going on here. But given that KJU has already assured himself that Trump and Moon are unlikely to pose a threat, my bet would be that he's shoring up his nationalist bona fides domestically -- either because he's worried that his lieutenants might be secretly muttering about how he's been cozying up to the people his grandfather defeated, or because he wants to preemptively head off any such muttering if he cozies up further in the future.

(So I guess it could be a double move -- framing himself in the most strongly nationalist terms possible while also setting up an overture to Trump.)

KJU is about as close to an absolute ruler as one could find in today's world, but even an absolute ruler's grip on power (and life) can only be as strong as the loyalty of those close to them. And the Kims seem to have been particularly savvy learners of that lesson. So FWIW, my guess is that the primary audience for these theatrics is domestic.
posted by Not A Thing at 8:09 PM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


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