It sure LOOKS like a fun place to be! North Korean charm offensive shows country as the leisure capital of the world
- Pictures released by the North Korean state press agency show locals having fun at theme parks and swimming pools
- Authorities have introduced a new 'leisure drive' in a bid to 'energise and mobilise' the country's populace
- But many of the pictures still show the sinister shadow of the country's military lurking in the background
By Steve Nolan
Carefree and beaming with joy as they make their way around the lazy rapids sat on an inflatable ring, these two young girls look like they are having the time of their lives at the water park.
With high colorful slides towering above the horizon in the background, it could be a scene from any thronged tourist attraction on a holiday island in Greece or Spain.
The sinister presence of soldiers dressed in full military regalia lurking around in the background is the only giveaway that this is in fact North Korea - a land not exactly renowned for it's laid back, fun-filled atmosphere.
The pictures - released by a state news agency - are the latest attempt by Kim Jong Un's propaganda machine to convince the rest of the world that the secretive communist state is a wonderful place to live.
Having a ball: Smartly dressed spectators gather on a bridge and watch three swimmers frolic with inflatables at a water park in Pyongyang
A fun place to live: North Korean soldiers play an arcade game at the Pyongyang Pleasure park
Eye-catching: North Korea ladies working shifts as traffic girls are becoming iconic figures in the secretive state
The country is often portrayed as an isolated and poverty stricken state with one of the lowest living standards in the world.
But these pictures show Koreans at play - splashing around at the Munsu Water Park in the nation's capital, watching a 3D film, playing tennis and enjoying a ride on the bumper cars - in a bid to show that the country isn't all about military might.
A 'miniature world' resort featuring scaled down models of global landmarks such as Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower has been built and a luxury ski resort with a giant chalet and hotel complex is being built in a remote part of the country.
The apparent glamorous lifestyle in North Korea even extends to the nation's roads - instead of traffic lights and stop signs, attractive young women in pristine uniforms direct the traffic from the middle of the road instead.
Concentrate: Displaying riveting focus, they are only allowed to turn counter-clockwise, directing traffic with forceful and halting movements
Different: Instead of using traffic lights to control the stop and go flow of the cross-roads, attractive women dressed in perfectly crisps and identical outfits dangerously stand in the middle of the road on a small platform
Such fun: Balloons are released as a building dedication ceremony takes place at The Munsu Water Park in Pyongyang
Making a splash: An aerial shot of some of the slides at the Munsu Water Park in Pyongyang
Liesure time: The Munsu Water Park also features an indoor pool
Fun, fun, fun: Koreans queue up to use one of the many giant slides at the water park
But most North Koreans will never be able to afford to set foot in places like the luxury ski resort.
Over the past few months, numerous recreational sports parks, basketball courts and inline skating rinks have also been erected in Pyongyang.
They are part of a drive to get more people interested in taking part in recreational activities and particularly sport.
Officials hope that sport and recreation will help energise and mobilise the population - they call it the 'hot winds of sport blowing through Korea'.
'All of Wonsan will be turned into a tourist area,' Ri Ki Song, an economist for the Institute of Economy at North Korea's Academy of Social Science, said in a recent interview in the capital.
'It will have a big impact on the economy. We are now trying to build a lot of tourism sites, and skiing is the kind of sport that developed countries enjoy.
'It will also be a place for our own people to use.'
Having a rest: North Korean men play tennis at a newly built recreational park in Pyongyang.Aauthorities have been encouraging a broader interest in sports in the country
Energetic: North Korean runners rest at the finish line of the Mangyongdae Prize Marathon. Authorities hope that a greater increase in sporting and leisure activities will energize and mobilise the masses
All the fun of the fair: North Koreans wait in line to enter the bumper car ride at the Pyongyang Pleasure park in the capital city
Unwinding: A North Korean man drinks beer in his swimsuit and cap at an indoor poolside bar that officials said was built as a recreational facility for workers at a food processing factory
Life of luxury: North Koreans work on at building project to construct a ski resort at North Korea's Masik Pass. The complex of ski runs, resort chalets and sleigh rides in the secluded depths of the east coast will formally open this month
Not all fun and games: Propaganda signs stand at the top of a ski slope overlooking a building project to construct a ski resort at North Korea's Masik Pass
Motivation: A sign at the bottom of a ski run reads 'Full attack. March Forward. Let's Absolutely Finish Building Masik Pass Ski Resort Within This Year By Launching A Full Aggressive War and Full Battle'
Heavy work: A Korean construction worker carries bricks at the resort while motivational music blares out from speakers all around the site