Panorama of Rason — and the floating hotel that once doubled as a thriving amusement park. GEDU/REUTERS
A once-busy seaport city in northeast North Korea that has been left to rot and rust, the 35-year-old shell of a 50-story passenger and cargo ship remains a sight to behold.
The Rason city government once boasted a string of more than 100 brightly colored cruise ships — many of which they used as floating hotels — and its waterfront includes a cluster of apartment blocks constructed atop the bulkhead of the former ship. But the facility has been closed for more than a decade and there are reportedly no plans to convert it into a permanent city park.
As a passenger ship, it would have still held thousands of tourists when it made the first of its five, unsuccessful port calls to Rason in 1982, reports Reuters. Those voyages were followed by hundreds of loyal locals and tourists hoping to enjoy a cup of tea or browse souvenirs at the city’s kiosks. The last shipment of food and other supplies was reportedly seen arriving in 2010 and the 875-metre (2,070 feet) ferry began sinking around a year later, taking down everything below it.
A view of the Rason shipyard in North Korea, where a reportedly structurally unsound ship is slowly rotting away. TORPEDO/AFP/Getty Images
On Monday, the state-owned Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation confirmed that the ship had met with trouble in August 2015, and had been held at the nearby Moyesanport facility. The plant is overseen by South Korea’s Industrial Complex for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, and until last month, the sinking ship was believed to still contain hydraulic capacity and was turned into a fuel storage station.
A worker walks among the belongings of evacuees on the docks of the former ship, which is being cleaned before possibly being taken away. TORPEDO/AFP/Getty Images
The ship was transferred to a South Korean company that has pledged to clean up the vessel, according to Reuters. The only other detail made available about the ship is that it is currently running on compressed natural gas. But with the vessel left at a resting point in the middle of a four-lane highway, from which it was swept away, the hope is that it might eventually be towed away.
© The Christian Science Monitor