Kim Jong Un builds his own 'Mar-a-Lago' as North Korean people starve

As he plots the next moves in his rogue nuke and missile programs, North Korean despot Kim Jong Un is constructing one other immense show of power just down the road from where his military tests the prohibited rockets that've brought the U.S. and North Korea to the brink of war.

Kim wants his own version of Mar-a-Lago.

North Korean girls in similar bathing suits stand under a shower at the Songdowon International Children's Camp, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Wonsan, North Korea. The camp, which has been operating for nearly 30 years, was originally intended mainly to deepen relations with friendly countries in the Communist or non-aligned world. But officials say they are willing to accept youth from anywhere - even the United States.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korean girls stand under a shower on a beach in Wonsan.  (AP)

The rogue leader has been building a knockoff Spanish resort in the seaside town of Wonsan, a vacation spot that appears to be Kim's attempt at a North Korean take on President Trump's Florida getaway.

Experts say Kim's glamorous makeover of the city is part of the dictator's grand strategy to improve his country’s economic development -- ensuring his regime’s survival.

Wonsan, situated along the coast and east from Pyongyang, is already a popular destination for North Korean families to enjoy summer activities, Reuters reported. It’s also a place where Kim has ordered several new structures: an airport, ski resort and five-star hotel.

The construction continues alongside the rocket tests — there've been nearly 40 launches in the area.

A fisherman is silhouetted against the lit skyline of Wonsan, Monday, July 28, 2014 in North Korea. North Korea has been creating special zones across the country to try to boost tourism and Wonsan, long a favorite of North Korean vacationers, is being pushed as a prime destination for international travelers. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

A fisherman is silhouetted against the skyline of Wonsan in North Korea.  (AP)

John Delury, an associate professor at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies, told Fox News that Kim’s survival strategy is double-pronged, involving the completion of his prized nuclear deterrent as well as creating economic improvement for his sanctions-choked populace.

“We tend to focus exclusively on the first part, and we only consider North Korea's economy in so far as how to sanction and strangle it further," Delury, who also specializes in North Korean affairs, told Fox News on Friday. “Kim's ambition to create economic development is the one promising piece in the North Korea puzzle."

“Sanctions don't work on North Korea. Capitalism does.”

- Prof. John Delury

Kim first announced new developments in Wonsan in 2014. The proposal stated the building of “world-class facilities including an ultra-luxurious five-star hotel called the Wonsan Hotel," according to the North Korean Economy Watch. But, showcasing the dual nature of the regime, the North Korean leader also held the country’s largest artillery drill in April at a nearby beach, Reuters reported. About “300 large-caliber self-propelled guns” opened fire at targets on an island about a mile away.

Delury said Kim wants North Korea to prosper more than the country did under his father, Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011.

FILE - In this Monday, July 28, 2014, file photo, North Korean women talk over pots of burning charcoal for cooking seafood on a pier leading to Jangdok Island at dusk, in Wonsan, North Korea, a favorite among North Korean vacationers, and being pushed as a prime destination for international travelers. Fresh off a drastic, half-year ban that closed North Korea’s doors to virtually all foreigners over fears they would spread the Ebola virus - despite the fact that there were no cases of Ebola reported anywhere in Asia - the country is once again determined to show off its "socialist fairyland" to tourists. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

Two people cook seaside in Wonsan, North Korea.  (AP)

“So far [Kim is] doing a better job of delivering results in terms of economic growth,” Delury said.

Kim and his top officials have signaled the Hermit Kingdom is close to “completing” its goal of developing the ability to strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Wednesday a nuclear deterrent was the “real balance of power with the United States.” Delury said once they achieve the goal, Kim’s strategy is expected to shift to economic development through tourism.

“In terms of his strategy, that should allow him to pivot and focus even more on economic development — including things like tourism to Wonsan,” Delury said.

In this Saturday Feb. 11, 2017, photo, North Koreans ski at the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Wonsan, North Korea. North Korea's Olympic committee lashed out Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, against sanctions over its nuclear and long-range missile programs, claiming they are aimed at hurting the North's efforts to compete in international sports. Sanctions that block the sale of such items as skis, snowmobiles, snow groomers, yachts and even billiard tables are a "vicious ulterior political scheme," according to its National Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Koreans ski at the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Wonsan.  (AP)

Kim’s top officials have already been spotted planning additions to the seaside resort, which is expected to eventually cost more than $1 billion. In June, top North Korean officials were seen traveling to Spanish resorts such as Benidorm, also a hotspot for drinking tourists, and were "amazed by the dimensions" of the towers and holiday parks, a spokesman for the North Korean embassy in Madrid told the Telegraph.

The North Korean delegation also 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 eyed the theme park Terra Mitica, hinting at a possible replica being built in Wonsan. The spokesman said they filmed some locations, possibly for future planning — and re-creation — in Wonsan.

North Korea wants to increase the number of tourists by 1 million people each year, eventually bringing in between 5 million to 10 million “in the foreseeable future,” according to Reuters. However, the recent death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster and released by North Korean officials with severe brain damage, could deter that goal.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Wonsan Army-People Power Station in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 13, 2016. KCNA via REUTERS     ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. - RC1102DED480

Kim Jong Un visits the Wonsan Army-People Power Station in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 13, 2016.  (Reuters)

The U.S. State Department issued a new warning in August, telling travelers not to travel to North Korea “due to the serious and mounting risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. citizens.”

Delury told Fox News recent U.N. sanctions against North Korea won’t deter Kim.

“A smart strategy by the Trump administration would be to get a basic arms control agreement that freezes the North Korean nuclear and missile program where it is, and builds in gradual dismantlement steps, while at the same time helping Kim focus on economic development,” he said.

“Sanctions don't work on North Korea. Capitalism does.”