North Korea plans to create a large beach resort in one of the country's port cities, a knock-off of a Spanish getaway that's a hotspot for drinking tourists, a report said.
The beach resort, planned to be built in Wonsan, will mimick the Spanish city of Benidorm, The Telegraph reported. The secretive regime became infatuated with Benidorm after 20 North Korean officials took a fact-finding trip to the beach resort and were "amazed by the dimensions" of the towers and holiday parks, a spokesman for the North Korean embassy in Madrid said.
Travel analysts point out that Benidorm has plenty of places to drink, and prices are cheap, although officials have tried to tamp down the so-called "binge tourism." A tourist there reportedly was arrested last year and accused of abandoning her nine-year-old twins so she could keep drinking.
The North Korean delegation looked closely at Marina d'Or, a resort in Oropesa del Mar that claims to have "endless luxury services at your fingertips" and Europe's largest scientific seawater spa. They also eyed the theme park Terra Mitica, hinting at a possible replica being built in Wonsan.
“They loved the recreation of the various ancient Mediterranean civilisations. It would be very interesting to apply that concept in our theme park, maybe with Asian civilizations," the embassy spokesman told The Telegraph.
North Korean officials reportedly took little interst in Barcelona, also a popular tourist destination for its nightlife and architectural works by famous artists.
The regime might first begin the resort city by accomodating people in campsites rather than skyscraping hotels, similar to a campsite found near Benidorm, according to The Telegraph.
The North Korean beach resort is an attempt to increase the country's tourism. Leader Kim Jong Un hopes to welcome 1 million tourists into North Korea by the end of 2017. Currently about 100,000 foreign visitors go to the country yearly, The Telegraph reported.
However, the recent death of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died last week after returning from North Korea where he was serving his 15-year prison sentence, could deter that goal. The regime claimed the 22-year-old contracted botulism and slipped into a coma shortly after he was sentenced in 2016. Warmbier was accused of stealing a propoganda poster.
The State Department strongly discourages travel to North Korea, but is reportedly mulling a full travel ban for U.S citizens to the increasingly hostile dictatorship.
North Korean officials claimed they were the "biggest victim" in Warmbier's death, adding that the tragedy was a "smear cmapaign against" the country.