During the winter season in the DPRK, things tend to slow down from the tourism perspective. This gives us at YPT a fantastic opportunity to visit the newly opened attractions in and around Pyongyang and the country.
I was lucky enough to visit the newly opened Munsu Waterpark located across the river from May Day stadium in Pyongyang and the unique attraction of Mirim horse ranch which is located on the outskirts of Pyongyang. Both of these attractions have undergone direct guidance from the Marshal himself as he wanted to supply the locals and tourists with more fun and activities in and around the city.
My first visit was to the Mirim horse ranch. Marshal Kim Jong Un decided to relocate and build a new horse stable and ranch to continue the passion his father and grandfather have had for horses for generations. When I arrived at the stable I was taken back by the sheer size of the area. It’s huge.
I was welcomed with smiles and waves by the stable director and stable master for being one of the first western foreigners to visit the ranch. I was first shown to the museum with an explanation and many portraits of the Kim family’s dedication to horse riding. What grabbed my attention the most was seeing multiple portraits of the young Marshal horse riding with his father General Kim Jong Il. The fashionable young lad was photographed wearing trendy aviators in one portrait and a flashy pink cap in another which was truly showing off the early 90’s fashion of the time. Most of the photographs of the young Marshal were from 1990 to 1993.
A short break from riding.. time to feed the horse!
A wax model of General Kim Jong Il’s favourite horse with the real skin and hair from the original has been presented in the museum. I was lucky enough to pat the horse, which I’m not entirely sure will be allowed for future tourists or not. A table with how many visits each Kim had made was kept on a wall, with General Kim Jong Il having had the most with over 400 visits to the previous stable.
I was next taken to the indoor stable which was comfortably heated and had two large screens with Korean music playing, as the horses inside trotted and galloped around with their riders on their back. I’m not a horse expert but I could tell there were certainly many types of horse and pony breeds kept at the ranch. I was given a thorough debrief on how to ride and control a horse.
Shortly after the explanation I was up and riding a horse. A burst of applause was heard from the many riders and staff standing and watching the tall, gangly westerner ride one of the bigger horses. If any of you have the chance to visit the stable his name is
No Ul and he’s an absolute sweetheart. As I rode around the stable I noticed how prompt the staffs were at keeping the grounds clean and how well trained the horses are.
After an hour or so of galloping around the stable I requested if I could ride my horse outside on the racing track. Safety at the Mirim ranch is a big concern to the staff here and they are all very professional at what they do. I was accompanied by another rider to walk my horse out and around the outdoor track. As the cold air hit me so did the adrenaline rush of riding a horse in the DPRK. Yeahaw! I had such a fantastic experience at the ranch and I look forward to bringing many Young Pioneers to this thrilling attraction. The ranch is equipped with a bar, restaurant and a school dedicated to horse training. Entry to the stable for tourists is 2 euros and 23 euros to ride.
The following day I was able to visit Munsu Waterpark which opened last October to the public and foreigners. I had doubts that day if there would be a crowd at the park as it was a Monday. As I stepped through the entrance doors to the indoor heating arena I was greeted by the local staff and some smiles from the public. I was beginning to feel a little envious that I wasn’t wearing my bathers. I was promised on my next visit I could go crazy with the slides.
Facing towards the front doors was a wax model of General Kim Jong Il standing in front of a display of a beach smiling. I was then brought to the welcome desk where they supplied me with slippers to walk around the arena. Located in the waddling pool arena are multiple slides, an artificial waterfall, a kiddie pool and lapping pool all with beach chairs and umbrellas surrounding. Located just outside the indoor swimming arena is a multi-level 10m diving board, tubing slides, speed slides, racing slides and many more! I honestly couldn’t count how many there were!
Later on I was shown the other physical activities that were inside the indoor swimming arena. They had ping pong tables, a volleyball, badminton and a basketball court, trampolines, rock climbing, billiards, saunas, massage rooms, a gym and a two-lane bowling alley. The Marshal also made it a priority to have a high-class cafe/bar, restaurant, a fast food restaurant and a bakery included to ensure no swimmer has to embrace the cold during the winter. I was simply impressed by everything Munsu water park had to offer.