Fondue and more at Pyongyang's air terminal

Pictures released yesterday by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) and his wife, Ms Ri Sol Ju, inspecting the new terminal (below) at Pyongyang International Airport.
Pictures released yesterday by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) and his wife, Ms Ri Sol Ju, inspecting the new terminal at Pyongyang International Airport.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Pictures released yesterday by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) and his wife, Ms Ri Sol Ju, inspecting the new terminal (below) at Pyongyang International Airport.
Pictures released yesterday by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ms Ri Sol Ju, inspecting the new terminal (above) at Pyongyang International Airport.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SEOUL - Designer shirts, duty-free watches and cosmetics, and chocolate fondue will soon await visitors to North Korea, according to photos of Pyongyang's new airport terminal released by state media yesterday.

Three pages of the ruling Workers' Party official daily newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, were yesterday devoted to images of leader Kim Jong Un and his wife inspecting shops, restaurants and waiting areas in a large, glass-fronted terminal building that state media said would open on July 1.

Since taking power in 2011, Mr Kim has promised to raise living standards in the isolated country, although many of the young leader's signature projects are showpieces beyond the reach of average North Koreans, such as a ski resort, water park and riding stables.

While many North Koreans suffer from a lack of food, drinking water and stable electricity, in recent years a new moneyed class called "Donju", or "masters of money", has begun to spend more conspicuously the cash they earn in the unofficial economy.

In one image, Mars Bars, Werther's Originals and bottled beers were on display in one of the airport's new duty-free shops. Another showed a cafe serving espresso-based drinks.

Most of the tiny handful of flights to and from the capital ferry tourists and North Koreans on official business between Pyongyang and Beijing. The vast majority of tourists to North Korea are from neighbouring China.

The country does not publish tourist numbers, but travel agencies estimate as many as 6,000 Westerners visit the country every year, although visits fell following a border closure over fears of the deadly Ebola virus last year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Fondue and more at Pyongyang's air terminal'. Print Edition | Subscribe