North Koreans remained oblivious to their leadership’s failed missile test early on Sunday morning, reported foreign journalists on a media trip to the capital, Pyongyang.
Just one day after Kim flaunted his weaponry to the world, it was no great surprise that North Korea’s strictly controlled media, largely known as the dictator’s propaganda mouthpiece, would decline to report the embarrassing flop of one of his missiles 3-4 seconds after take-off.
But as news of the missile malfunction flashed around the world, Pyongyang’s reaction took a surreal turn when foreign media were escorted to visit a flower show and a crowded indoor swimming pool with rainbow beach umbrellas.
“No sign of tensions in #Pyongyang despite failed missile launch,” tweeted Channel News Asia correspondent, Jeremy Koh, showing a picture of dozens of locals floating on rubber rings in the modern pool and enjoying a ride on a waterslide.
“As you can see, nervous and panicked people in Pyongyang are ducking for cover today,” added Mika Makelainen, a Finnish reporter.
Earlier in the day he had tweeted a shot from a hairdressers’ salon, where men and women can choose from 15 approved haircuts.
Meanwhile Jonathan Kaiman, from the LA Times, posted a video from the Pyongyang zoo, depicting a “rousing game of goose ring toss.”
It rounded off a bizarre visit for foreign journalists who had been invited to the secretive hermit kingdom during one of the worst crises on the Korean peninsula in recent years.
They were strictly chaperoned by the North Korean regime, who had arranged the trip to coincide with its biggest national holiday, the Day of the Sun, which this year also marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of state founder, Kim Il-sung, the current leader’s grandfather.
On Thursday, as the international community nervously anticipated a sixth North Korean nuclear bomb test, the journalists were told to gather for a “big and important event.”
A few hours later they witnessed Kim Jong-un preside over the opening of a new skyscraper-lined street.