Hotels

Australia’s former Barrier Reef Floating Resort faces uncertainty, as North Korea seeks renovations

The world’s first floating resort, which formerly came to rest in North Korea from Australia, faces an uncertain future.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the removal of all “backward” and “shabby” looking service facilities in the Mount Kumgang “tourist area”, according to a state media report.

The area is the current resting place of the world’s first floating hotel, the Barrier Reef Floating Resort – now known as Hotel Haegumgang – which originated in Australia.

Image: Hotel Haegumgang/Google Earth

The resort was renamed after its sale to a South Korean company and its subsequent 14,000-kilometre journey to North Korea, according to ABC News.

Kim Jong-un has described the buildings in the tourist area as “a hotchpotch with no national character at all”, and likened the facilities to “makeshift tents in a disaster-stricken area”.

“They are not only very backward in terms of architecture but look so shabby as they are not taken proper care of,” he told KCNA.

The North Korean leader is calling for the removal of all the “unpleasant-looking facilities of the south side” to build new modern facilities that go well with the “natural scenery”; these new facilities will reflect North Korea’s “sentiment” and “aesthetic taste”, he said.

The Barrier Reef Floating Resort was reportedly built in Singapore and towed more than 5,000 kilometres to Townsville, where it opened in 1988 as the world’s first floating hotel, with facilities including tennis courts, swimming pools, nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

ABC News reported that it was, however, only open for business for about a year, before being sold to a Vietnamese company and moved to Ho Chi Minh City.

The hotel reportedly stayed open for around a decade in Vietnam before being sold to a South Korean company which moved it to the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea, where it resides to this day.

Tours to Mount Kumgang were reportedly launched in 1998, but were suspended ten years later after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a South Korean tourist who had wandered unknowingly into a military area, ABC News reported.

At a summit last September in Pyongyang, Kim and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in reportedly vowed to restart tours to Mount Kumgang, however, relations have ceded since then.

The South Korean-funded facilities that remain there have only been used during infrequent inter-Korean events, since its closure, including reunions of families separated by the Korean War, last held in August 2018, according to ABC News.

Featured image: “Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Inspects Mt Kumgang Tourist Area”/KCNA


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