By Kiang Ching and Lim Xin yan
Our project aims to connect the everyday spaces in the coastal city of Wonsan, as a way to redefine tourism in North Korea. It looks at the urban mountains as a way to reimagine the future of tourism further inland. By creating new access points to break the dense urban fabric, locals and foreigners can reconnect with the urban mountains. This proposal aims to normalise the city by designing various trails that brings tourists through a series of intermediary stops on the urban mountains, the urban fabric or along the coast.
Our intervention is to develop a series of urban public designs along the trail where tourists can explore and experience the daily lives of the North Koreans in a controlled manner.
Zooming into two chosen sites, a bathhouse and a restaurant have been inserted into the everyday spaces of the locals. By attaching extensions to former residential homes, the project demonstrates how small-scale interventions can provide new spaces and programs, creating thresholds between public and private spaces.
The proposal can benefit local businesses which shifts the model of tourism from a consumption based to a contribution model, as locals could be operators of these facilities, thus creating more jobs and injecting tourist dollars to locals. Responding to the studio’s brief of designing for 1000 people, we focused on the number of local beneficiaries by curating a series of trails that can benefit 1000 locals. Instead of focusing on the absolute numbers, the proposal aims to shift the mentality of tourism in North Korea, by investing in local infrastructure rather than building a new resort.
Our project can be seen as a critique to the new development of Kalma beach resorts. Rather than to manufacture an experience for tourists, our proposal for an everyday tourism curates an experience that is unique to Wonsan by compressing multiple destinations on a micro scale that not only allow tourists to have a holistic reading of the city but also benefiting the locals.