The very fact that there are any North Korea casinos will probably come as something of a surprise to most people. The Hermit Kingdom, as it is sometimes known (this is actually a much older name for the whole of Korea, now usually applied only to the North), is the last Stalinist dictatorship left on the planet. The regime is so restrictive that mobile phones are not allowed at all. When they were handed out to regional officals, they were then confiscated again as they had become an alternative method of communication, outside the State structures. theseoulofkorea
Even the radios are permanently soldered to receive only the State radio channels, so that no one ever gets tempted to listen to South Korean stations. North Korea really is the most oppressive country currently extant. Another claim to fame is that it is the first hereditary Communist dictatorship, something that not all that many old style Communists would actually think was a good idea. What with all that repression (yes, they have an extensive network of gulags, work camps for those who have displeased the leadership) and the pure idiocy of their economic system (they can not actually feed their own population), it would be something of a surprise to find any North Korea casinos at all.
However, no one should underestimate the capacity of this country to surprise. There are indeed North Korea casinos, two of them apparently, possibly a third. The first of North Korea’s casinos is in Pyongyang, the capital. Called, with breathtaking originality, the Pyongyang casino, it is a little difficult to know whether it actually exists. Certainly, North Koreans are not allowed to enter it if it does, and the number of tourists to the country each year is only a few hundred. Perhaps, it caters to those very few diplomats and foreign businessmen who are posted there, but that would be an extremely small clientele.
The second of North Korea’s casinos that may or may not exist is the Seaview Casino Hotel in Rajin. Sixteen tables and 52 slots are what is listed. However, many think that this is either a renaming or another name for the Emperor casino in Rajin-Songbong, a free trade area that North Korea is trying to establish on the border with China. The Emperor casino is the third and last of North Korea’s casinos that is definitely known to exist. It was set up to cater to the cross-border trade from China: all forms of gambling in China being illegal until very recently. No North Koreans, other than the staff, were allowed into the complex at all (and they wouldn’t have the money to play there anyway). When the Chinese found that government officials were embezzling money and then losing it at the casino, they closed the border to gamblers. The Emperor thus closed as it had no customers.
So the question of whether or not there are actually any functioning North Korea casinos is unanswered. There might be one in the capital and there’s definitely an empty unused one on the Chinese border, but beyond that, no one really knows.
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What To See And Things To Do In Seoul And All Of Korea When You Visit Korea. Your Secret Korea Travel Guide When You Are Visiting.