North Korean theme parks: communism meets amusement park fun


I would imagine that there are few Gadling readers that have ever wanted to visit North Korea. The communist country that recently took hostile actions towards its neighbor isn’t on any top vacation lists that I know of. And, I would imagine even fewer would want to visit North Korea for its amusement parks. But, if you’re a huge theme park fan like the globe trotting Stefan Zwanger, then a trip to the strange, isolationist country is right down your alley.

Roller Coaster at a Theme Park in North KoreaWearing his signature red hat adorned with a tangle of roller coaster track, Zwanger, also known as the Theme Park Guy, ventured into North Korea. He described his trip as a “time machine journey many decades back.” His trip report includes dozens of great images from Pyongyang’s three parks including an image of a roller coaster with the red star of the Communist Party on it. Zwanger also encountered a Zamperla flying roller coaster at the newest park, Kaeson. Kaeson has the distinction of staying lit at night when much of the rest of the country goes dark.

Asia has some excellent theme parks, but I was surprised to see that North Korea actually has three currently in operation. I guess even an oppressive government like North Korea’s must be open to amusements of some kind. The other two parks were Mangyongdae and Taesongsan. Most of the rides at these older parks look pretty neglected and the parks themselves look deserted, bleak, and devoid of a lot of color.

As I analyze the country’s theme parks I don’t mean to belittle or overlook the plight of its people. Theme parks are obviously way down on the list of quality of life improvements needed by the North Korean people. As a long-time theme park blogger, this is just what I do. I make observations about theme parks. See Zwanger’s North Korean theme park trip report.

[Photo credits: Flickr user giladr and Theme Park Guy]