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World's Worst Cruise Sets Sail

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NOW THIS IS HAPPENING
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If you're willing to forgo the usual cruise ship amenities -- working toilets, valid insurance, a captain with an internationally recognized license -- the vacation you've been dreaming of is finally here.

Yes, the first-ever North Korean cruise set sail from "the rundown northeastern port city of Rajin to the scenic resort of Mount Kumgang," according to France 24.

The Associated Press, which recently opened its first bureau in Pyongyang, reports that "Some 500 North Koreans, about half dressed in dark workers' clothes and the others in office and traditional attire, waved off the ship in a choreographed performance on the potholed dock."

From the looks of things, the spectators on hand to bid the tourists bon voyage, were equally as thrilled as the foreign journalists invited along must have been:


"It's either this or a labor camp, so...f**k it."


Reporters bask in the luxurious on-board accommodations

The ship itself is called the Mangyongbong-92, which was built in 1992 to celebrate "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung's 80th birthday.



The Washington Post describes the former cargo ship as boasting "rusty portholes and musty cabins," serving "simple meals... cafeteria-style on metal trays."

The Jakarta Globe's Marianne Barriaux, who was along for the ride, writes that "the bathrooms on the lower decks [were] out of water" and "when available, was brown."

Not to worry -- take your mind off things with a little on-board karaoke:



Before it was pressed into passenger service, the vessel was used for "trafficking drugs, counterfeit money and other contraband goods," points out DPRK expert Curtis Melvin of NK Econ Watch.

Oh, and video game consoles.

From the Washington Times, 2006:

Their bags crammed with shiny new electronic goods, the passengers on the battered North Korean ferry looked like any other tourists returning from a shopping trip in the malls of Tokyo.

But the PlayStations and other gadgets carried onto the Mangyongbong-92 ferry ended up not as children's gifts but as components in Pyongyang's military hardware.

Japanese officials said North Korean spies have trawled electronic retail outlets in Tokyo for many years as part of a covert operation to exploit their neighbor&'s technological know-how.

Seemingly innocent consumer goods, including games consoles and camera lenses, were openly carried out of the country to the communist regime, their components finding their way into missiles now aimed back at Japan.

The Kim regime has also relied on the Mangyongbong-92 to keep itself swaddled in luxury while North Korean citizens starve.

As per Japan Probe:

Most of the cars driven by Pyongyang's leadership are Japanese cars (with the company markings cleverly removed). Much of this wealth and material is shipped back to North Korea on the Mangyongbong-92.

Park Chol Su, vice chairman of the North Korean government agency behind the cruises, told reporters to expect a “more luxurious” ship with a possible capacity of 900, "perhaps next year."

No word on whether or not the North Korean Joe Satriani treated the passengers to a performance (the shredding begins at 0:46):



Cunard, Carnival, Royal Caribbean shareholders: don't sweat this. Really.
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