Pyongyang’s dolphinarium remains in my conscious mind far more often than it probably should, partly because I have never been to another dolphinarium but also it seems an appropriate icon for the changing times in the DPRK. North Korea is often in the spotlight for it’s development far more than historically any other Soviet communist country has been.
This year Kim Jong Un has no doubt been aware the worlds eyes are upon him as he must decide what first steps his Korea will take. Now it is easy to overlook the significance of facilities and luxuries, when compared to ominous monuments such as the impressive Juche Tower and Monument to Party Foundation. However these facilities play an equally vital role in the morale of the masses. People from all over the country stand in awe at the feats their flag city of Pyongyang has achieved.
Some people may question the decision to build a 30 mile saltwater pipeline into Pyongyang for the dolphinarium and the appearance of a new amusement park as a direction for infrastructural growth, but doing so would be to under-complicate the way change works.
Being the most totalitarian Communist society in the world means you have a lot to prove to the world and this can be done in numerous ways. Typically military might is a key characteristic of Communism, but such changes in Pyongyang are leading to the focus being on the internal development of DPRK, facilitating the daily life’s of those Koreans touched by current economic growth.
In the spirit of the reunification of Korea, a higher focus in non-military development is surely a step closer to this goal. There are numerous more subtle changes that go unnoticed in the way things work and as long as people focus on grand gestures they will fail to notice the smaller complexities such as compulsory education raising an extra year and women riding bicycles in Pyongyang.
Needless to say, as the dolphinarium continues to drift into my thoughts, the biggest question still remains. Where do the dolphins in Pyongyang come from??