Offbeat

By Michael Scott


Thrillseekers cling on to this rickety rollercoaster in North Korea’s version of Alton Towers.

Incredible photos of from this theme park provide a rare glimpse at what families from the communist state do for fun.

Pic from Caters News

Taesongsan Park seven miles from Pyongyang boasts around ten to 15 ride and attractions from a archery to a game of tug of war.

A British traveller slipped into the Communist state to take these extraordinary inside images of a day out.

He said: “When compared to Alton Towers in terms of thrills, I would have to give the medal of the best to Mt Taesong! Albeit it’s a different kind of thrill ride you’re on there.

“You know, more the thrill of someone arresting you for unknown reasons and having no way of communicating your situation to the outside world!”

Pictures of Taesongsan Park which opened at the foot of Mount Taesong in 1977 show traditional bumper cars, a ferris wheel, dancing and archery.

Pic from Caters News 

The photographer who was allowed to walk about North Korea’s answer to Alton Towers could not help but suspect many other visitors were there just to liven the place up.

More than a million people, including foreigners, enjoy themselves in the fun fair every year. Every year May Day festivities are held in this park.

The photographer added: “I would estimate there were between ten to 15 rides and attractions in the park.

“It’s hard to say exactly as we were forbidden from going to the areas closest to the exits through fear we would escape the confines of the park and roam rampantly through the streets of Pyongyang.

Pic from Caters News

“It was the only place we were allowed to wander around somewhat freely however.  Our guides let us mingle with the locals in the approved areas and just stood guard along the pathways leading to the entry and exit points.

“My two highlights of the Mt Taesong amusement park were participating in the archery and tug of war.

“The archery equipment was pretty run down and there were zero health and safety regulations in place as children grabbed weapons and fired freely at targets around 10m away.

“Despite being quite genuinely afraid that a stray arrow might find its way toward my person, I sheepishly requested a bow and tried my hand.

Pic from Caters News 

“My failed attempts were met with laughter from the local lads who soon showed me how it was done.

“Upon observing a very serious tug of war session, complete with a panel of judges a’la Simon Cowell, I was quite literally grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a woman in her 50’s and thrown into the fray.

“I was momentarily terrified, but I soon came around to the military style pep talk that was shouted at me and my team before we picked up the rope and battle cried our way to victory.

“High fives all round, including from my 50 something would-be captor. Very surreal!

“The big rollercoaster resembled something circa 1950’s or before, it involved single carts holding two passengers at a time. It looked fun though.

“I would estimate there were around 500 people. It was busy and there was a party atmosphere with large groups enjoying picnics, barbecues and all manner of fun and games.

“That said there was a slightly odd undercurrent to the mood, but that’s only to be expected in North Korea!

Pic from Caters News 

“One thing I did notice though is that when we were due to depart the park at 12.30pm, it seemed that almost everyone else in the park had the same idea and people were leaving in droves.

“Call me paranoid but it’s hard not to suspect that perhaps some people may not have been there of their own accord exactly.

“But who knows, maybe that is just the hour that North Koreans feel is time to head home!

“I believe it was all completely free of charge. When traveling in DPRK, the guides make sure to tell you repeatedly how well the government treats their citizens.

“Everything is government owned, there aren’t any private businesses, and this is, apparently, a very good thing, I mean some of the perks do sound pretty hard to argue with.

“Free accommodation, free entrance to attractions like these, even free beer!  Although that’s reserved for males,  five litres per month though, not too shabby!

Pic from Caters News 

“When you put all of that against the UK’s £40 entry to a theme park, £5 a pint and sky high rent price – on paper- North Korea starts to sound like a pretty decent place to live!

“I think it’s important that people understand that the local people aren’t all total oddballs. It becomes quite apparent they are just normal people living in very abnormal circumstances.

“They don’t have access to the internet and as a result are incredibly behind the times – everything from haircuts to architecture seems to be from a bygone era.

“I have to say though that one positive byproduct that was very apparent is that people weren’t in any way glued to their phones and social media accounts.

“In a day and age where we are all guilty of occasionally checking our news feeds instead of making conversation with loved ones that we are actually with, it was very refreshing to have a glimpse into a world where that isn’t a factor at all.