Enjoy summer camp and choco pies... in North Korea

This article is more than 12 months old

It's a cultural exchange of sorts.

Tired of the typical kids' summer camps at home? Don't fret. How does summer camp in North Korea sound?

And since goodwill goes both ways, North Koreans can also enjoy taken-for-granted sweet treats like choco pies.

A treat in North Korea

The famously secretive country has a camp, including everything from giant water slides and a private beach to video games and volleyball courts, Time magazine and website mashable reported.

Of course, it wouldn't be a North Korean destination without bronze statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Songdowon International Children's Camp, which has been operational for nearly 30 years, was originally intended mainly to deepen relations with friendly countries in the Communist or non-aligned world. But officials say they are willing to accept youth from anywhere — even the United States.

Sample North Korean delights. Summer camp, anyone?

The camp is located in Wonsan, a popular beach destination east from Pyongyang, on the coast of the Sea of Japan.

Mention Wonsan and North Koreans will have you know the place is known for its clear water and sandy beaches.

Post-facelift, the camp welcomed more than 300 young children and teenagers from Russia, China, Vietnam, Ireland and Tanzania this year.

Additional recent offerings to the outside world include a travel guide app with attractions and tour information, and the opening of the Pyongyang marathon to amateur foreign runners.

About 300 kids from different nationalities mingle at the camp

At the camp, kids spend eight days doing typical camp activities, like cooking, swimming, boating and mingling.

Their North Korean peers are not prohibited from speaking to tourists who visit the country, but conversations between foreigners and locals are rare, according to several visitors.

Though heavily subsidized by the government, the camp — plus a tour of Pyongyang — costs about US$270 (S$336) per child from outside North Korea.

Chocopies for you

South of the border, about 200 people packed 770 pounds of Choco Pies into plastic bags attached to 50 giant balloons.

They released the treats into North Korea from a park in the border city of Paju, an act of rebellion against the alleged North Korean ban on the chocolate confections.

"Choco Pies are an important mind-changing instrument ... [North Koreans] are suffering and starving, but thanks to Choco Pies, DVDs and large-scale labour migration to China, people don't buy the old story [that the South is even poorer] and the government does not sell it any more," Andrei Lankov, an expert on Korean studies told The Guardian.

Sources: mashable, The Guardian, Time, Associated Press

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