In recent weeks, flooding in North Korea has decimated the country's food supply, rendered 210,000 North Koreans homeless, and taken the lives of at least 168 people so far, with 400 more counted as "missing." And yet, just last week the country's spirited leader Kim Jong Un still managed to open a state-of-the-art amusement park, complete with water rides and roller coasters—and as was revealed today, a dolphinarium.
Runga Theme Park in Pyongyang opened with much fanfare and what must have been a tremendous amount of synchronized effort, not to mention mystery funding. The park's highly trained dolphins- which perform daily acrobatic shows—had to be imported, though how that happened remains unclear in light of importing sanctions against the country. In addition to the dolphins, the park boasts golf courses, basketball courts, a water park, and roller coasters, reports NKNews.
Still, even with the country's great shows of luxury, North Korea requested help from the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) according to BBC.com. The agency is sending emergency aid for those hardest hit by the floods. UN representatives who visited the country characterized the need for assistance as "dire." Almost 50,000 homes have been swamped, in addition to about 1,400 schools, factories, and hospitals.
The need for North Korea to maintain an air of opulence and extravagence in the face of epic natural disaster is par for the course in this unrelenting dictatorship. Brazen shows of egotism are the norm for a country where human rights violations are a part of the cultural fabric. But these dancing dolphins are powerful slap in the face to citizens struggling to find food and shelter.
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A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and medical writer. In addition to reporting the weekend news on TakePart, she volunteers as a web editor for locally-based nonprofits and works as a freelance feature writer for TimeOutLA.com. Email Andri | @andritweets | TakePart.com