TIME World

You Can Send Your Child to Summer Camp in North Korea

The camp was started to teach foreigners about the Hermit Kingdom and boasts access to a private beach and water slides

The Associated Press has published photos of opening day at a nearly 30-year-old summer camp in North Korea on July 29, 2014.

The Songdowon International Children’s Camp in Wonsan is supposed to help young foreigners (especially from Communist countries) get acquainted with the isolated country, attracting over 300 attendees from Russia, China, Vietnam, Ireland and Tanzania, the AP reports. Charging $270 per child, the government-subsidized camp boasts activities like cooking, volleyball, swimming at a private beach, boating and even access to a water slide. Accommodations include air-conditioned rooms with video games.

In the rest of North Korea, however, millions “suffer from malnourishment and inadequate health services,” according to a UN report cited in a TIME article last year. Due to malnutrition, “a third of children under the age of five show signs of stunting. Because of poor sanitation, diarrhea is a leading killer of children.” So it’s hard to ignore the irony while looking at pictures of “fun” camp activities.

North Korean school girls stand in formation during an opening ceremony for the start of summer activities at the Songdowon International Children’s Camp, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Wonsan, North Korea. Wong Maye-E –AP
North Korean girls in similar bathing suits stand under a shower at the Songdowon International Children’s Camp, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Wonsan, North Korea. Wong Maye-E –AP
The lobby of the dormitory at the Songdowon International Children’s Camp is painted in pastel colors, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Wonsan, North Korea. Wong Maye-E–AP
Students from the Laureat International School in Tanzania walk past a statue of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, surrounded by children, on the parade square of the Songdowon International Children’s Camp, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Wonsan, North Korea. Wong Maye-E–AP
Students from the Laureat International School in Tanzania walk past a statue of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, surrounded by children, on the parade square of the Songdowon International Children’s Camp, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Wonsan, North Korea. Wong Maye-E–AP
Young North Korean girls hold up signboards with the names of participating countries during an opening ceremony at the Songdowon International Children’s Camp, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Wonsan, North Korea. Wong Maye-E –AP

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