North Korea’s first floating hotel is finally demolished

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The hotel is one of many abandoned structures in the town

A hotel that was once the world’s first floating hotel may have finally reached its end.

The 80-metre-long “flatboat” structure was built in North Korea’s port city of Chongjin in 1986.

Videos from the city show how the buildings inside, including the famous Red Star Hotel, slowly began to collapse amid rising water levels.

A previously unconfirmed report by the BBC in December 2016 stated that the hotel had been torn down by North Korean soldiers as part of a propaganda campaign.

When the Red Star Hotel was built, so-called floating hotels were common in North Korea, according to the recent history section of the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The Soviet Union had sent a team of architects to build the first one called the Pyon Hang-O-Tet and the Red Star Hotel (also known as the Red Star Ocean Resort) was built as a replacement.

The Red Star Ocean Resort was dedicated to North Korea’s late leader Kim Il-sung and was the first to open on the North Korean coast, carrying guests from Jangjin-dong to Chongjin.

When it was in operation, the hotel was marketed as a world class property with modern facilities and a large shopping mall on the top floors.

To honour their late leader’s memory, North Koreans would march in front of the Red Star Hotel as a symbol of devotion.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The lobby of the destroyed hotel’s second-floor restaurant

Tourists then arrived at the hotel by inflatable dinghy before boarding ferries or sightseeing boats to continue their tour of the riverside area.

A North Korean source told NK News that to break the sea’s high waves, it was modified to become a sailing boat, with a sunbed in the lounge, deck chairs and a giant outboard motor.

But the bath tubs became submerged in water during heavy rains and the first-floor restaurant became “impossible to eat” as the restaurant’s floor gradually sank.

The Red Star Hotel’s owners eventually decided to close it down and abandon it to the elements.

Instead of removing the structure, officials are believed to have used it as an example for locals who were learning how to build sustainable vessels using marine fishing techniques.

They had even invited members of the British-based scheme Seawise to undertake a project in April 2018 which suggested that they could make it float again.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Red Star Hotel was located in the port city of Chongjin

The Saemangeum – also known as White Spring – was a newly designated protected area in South Korea. Its winds and waves make up a natural reef for large boats to sail into the water.

Years of persistent flooding due to climate change has destroyed most of the commercial fishing industry in the area and “positive atmosphere in the current region has helped in returning the fishing trawlers to the area”, according to the Seawise website.

As the Gyeonggi Province’s coastline has been transformed over the years, so the buildings built to protect it, remain somewhat unused.

The beach close to the Red Star Hotel is now run by a tourist attraction in Chuncheon Bay, located southwest of Cheongju in South Korea.

Seawise members have now raised money for a new sailing project in the Sea of Japan.

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