A guest house on a North Korean manatee sanctuary has been losing its value as its rusting metal exterior has become a magnet for North Korean defectors to take shelter.
A 2.8-acre landscaped manatee sanctuary on a North Korean manatee sanctuary has been losing its value as its rusting metal exterior has become a magnet for North Korean defectors to take shelter.
The mended wooden manatee shelter, a pontoon that was once a shelter for tourists who went in boats near the Panmunjom inter-Korean border, now serves as a magnet for defectors. It has become a “floating hotel” for many.
The shelter was built by the South Korean government in 1977.
Daniel Chan, a Pyeongtaek resident who recently visited the manatee sanctuary, said that once he was on his boat cruising in waters close to the border when he saw a North Korean defector walking along the hull of the original shelter.
“When he moved his legs a few inches it was very strong, and he was so cute, and he was happy,” Chan said.
The North Korean manatee sanctuary was inaugurated last year by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It has become a place for people who are at times nervous because of the ongoing nuclear standoff to visit and spend time with the manatees.
One North Korean man who recently visited the sanctuary was Hwang Jin-pyong, a 29-year-old farmer from Pyongyang who said he was nervous about visiting the North Korean village of Mansu Hill that is set to be demolished as part of a South Korean-led development plan.
Hwang recalled that while in Pyongyang he had thought about the wall separating the North from the South as a way of protecting itself from its southern neighbor, but he didn’t like the idea of the North being separated by a fence.
“We can’t stop defectors from visiting this place, but we can prevent our top officials from visiting this place,” said Hwang, who was on vacation in Pyeongtaek.
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