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The Surreal Architecture and Building "Boom" in Pyongyang

The Roman term "bread and circuses" referred to the emperor's means of pacifying the population, a combination of free food and massive public spectacles. According to Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright, who recently took an architecture tour of the closed-off country of North Korea, while the dictatorship hasn't quite figured out the bread part of the equation, it's turning to architecture as a means of entertaining, and winning the support of, the country's small but growing middle class and the wealthy elite known as the donju ("masters of money"). In a building boom Wainwright has dubbed "The Pyonghattan Project," Kim Jong-un has overseen the construction of large entertainment facilities, including the Munsu Water Park, the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground theme park, and the country's first ski resort in the city of Wonsan.

These new building projects, such as a complex of 18 curvy downtown apartment buildings, were completed in haste by the urging of the government, interested in projecting success and modernity and the image of the leader (ministers in charge of failed projects are often punished by death). A combination of Soviet and Korean style and the dictates of Kim Jong-un and his father and grandfather, the overall effect is a strange mirage of styles threaded through a surreal capital.

· The Pyonghattan project: how North Korea's capital is transforming into a 'socialist fairyland' [The Guardian]
· Here's a Look the Stalled Almost-Tallest Hotel in the World [Curbed]