Pyongyang’s Premier Leisure Centre
Situated within a stone’s throw of the foreign embassy compound and Mayday Stadium shows the importance of this place. This is central Pyongyang and within it lies the dominating outline of the Munsu Water Park.
Opened to much military fanfare in 2013, the park is the centerpiece of North Korea’s state “gift culture”. A gift to the people by Marshal Kim Jong Un but a concept apparently first conceived by his father, the late Kim Jong Il.
On the outside its signature twin pyramids tower over the blue brick facade. Bus loads of locals arrive before the 10am opening and funnel through the rear and underground entrance into the complex.
Foreigners enter through the front door and pay €10 for the privilege.
Once inside, a statue of the great leader pondering with a wide grin on a beach greets you in the main lobby. A brief show of respect is sometimes required.
The water park is made up of indoor and outdoor sections. Indoor you’ll find two slides, various pools as well as a sauna, steam room, massage parlour and indoor sports hall.
Outside however is where the scale of it truly hits home. On transitioning from inside to out, an explosion of bright colours knocks you while your eyes struggle to adjust. The city’s bright pastel makeover seems to have kick started with the opening of Munsu. Gone are the days of dreary communist grey brutalism. The colours signify the new and improved, modern Pyongyang.
Outside there’s 6 slides, a kids area, Olympic sized pools and diving platforms as well as several lounge areas, bars and fast food joints meaning come at 10am and one could stay the entire afternoon.
Not Just A Water Park
Don’t feel like getting wet? Munsu offers an array of other services. Chill out in the Haemaji café here for some of the best coffee in the country or get a €5 hair cut from one of the salon ladies. They’ll even throw in a cheeky shoulder massage and may even sing to you softly. There’s also pool tables, badminton on the roof and beer bars galore.
Perhaps the best feature of the park is that there is absolutely nothing politically sensitive here. It’s a sometimes much needed break from the monument after museum itinerary of the common Pyongyang tourist trail. What’s more is that your guides will often go for dip too whist you’re free to wander around and rub shoulders with hundreds of Pyongyangites.
If you’re planning a trip to North Korea, make sure you include a visit here. It’s open all year around. For tips on when is the best time to visit the DPRK get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org