North Korea’s $300 million dollar ski resort is commonly referred to as a “Ghost Town,” “deserted,” “empty,” and other dismal words you wouldn’t associate with a luxury ski resort. During the time of construction, a worker was interviewed by Bloomberg and stated the ski resort was intended to improve the lives of the people of North Korea.
North Korea has no athletes at the Sochi Olympic Games and a majority of its’ population cannot afford to ski at the resort. According to the North Korea Ski Association, there are 5,500 skier’s out of a population of 24 million people.
“Our respected Supreme commander proposed the ski resort project to improve our people’s lives. The Army started construction at the end of July last year. Since then, our respected Supreme commander has come here three times to guide us on how to finish it early. We’ve done this huge project to cover many square kilometers. We’re in a position to get it finished soon.”
The Masik Pass resort took one year to complete. Many workers hammered on the side of the road’s frozen surface in an attempt to keep the access road open for the resort’s few and far between elite visitors. Usually, snowplows and other machinery are used in the vast majority of ski resorts around the world. Based on footage released by NBC, some of the children carrying out construction on the ski resort may have been as young as 11 or 12-years-old, as per The Guardian.
North Korea tour operators are promoting the resort as “the most exotic ski resort on Earth.” The Masikryong ski resort was inspired by leader Kim Jong-Un’s time at school while studying in Switzerland. According to the Daily Mail, the Korea expert Andrei Lankov said Kim Jong-Un wanted to emulate what he saw there and make the North Korea hotel and resort into a tourist destination.
“He just decided to emulate what he saw there. He saw wonderful mountains in Korea, which are indeed beautiful, and he said why not make our country into a tourist destination like Switzerland so we can make a lot of money like Switzerland does.”
During construction of the massive ski resort, peasant farmers used sleds and ox-drawn carts for transport. These were also loaded with firewood and pulled across frozen lakes. Outside of the ski resort is praise of Kim Jun-Un, mounted in stone.
“The work of Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un who devoted hard work and heart and soul to make our people the happiest and most civilized people.”
The extravagant Masik Pass ski resort in North Korea is to be seen as a symbol of national pride and “single-minded unity.” Yet, the resort is three hours away from Pyongyang and nestled deep in North Korea’s eastern mountains. The ski resort can be found down a potholed concrete road that in order to travel to, one must pass through a passage of unlit tunnels. North Korean work crews worked day and night to clear the snow and ice by hand after fresh falls.
Masik Pass also has an incredibly well-equipped rental shop. The resort’s 250-room eight-story hotel is for foreigners and it sits next to a 150-room hotel for North Koreans.
The ski resort also has an ultra deluxe swimming pool which rises to the top of scenic Taehwa Peak. The resort is also equipped with a large underground parking area and a helipad reserved exclusively for VIPs or medical emergencies.
The resort is massive and encompasses 10 ski runs ranging from beginning to advanced. The lobby of the hotel is equally luxurious, however, it is deserted most of the time. Masik Pass also has an ice rink and a 12.2km ski road that is used for racing snowmobiles. The peak of the resort is 1,363m above sea level and the longest run from the top is an impressive 5km.
Controversy Surrounding North Korea’s Multi-million Dollar Ski Resort
Andrei Lankov, director of website NK News and a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, said Pyongyang’s tourism expectations have been ‘absolutely unfounded’ and ‘nearly comical,’ according to the Daily Mail. The resort is of high priority in an impoverished nation where around 40 percent of its people are undernourished, according to the Global Hunger Index.
“We’re aware of the controversies surrounding [Masik]. It’s a highly expensive construction project that many see as economically doubtful.”
According to the Washington Post, North Korea tried offering millions of dollars to Austrian and French companies to import ski lifts. The companies declined to sell ski lifts to North Korea. According to the Washington Post, Switzerland also refused to sell equipment to North Korea and called the Masik a “propaganda project.” Pyongyang was outraged and fired back via KCNA state television, calling the refusal to be sold ski lifts were a “human right’s violation.”
“This is an intolerable mockery of the social system and the people of the DPRK and a serious human rights abuse that politicizes sports and discriminates against the Koreans.”
Masik’s ski lifts were made in China, according to CNN.
North Korea’s Nuclear Missile Program
The Trump administration made clear diplomatic efforts to talk North Korea out of a nuclear confrontation and for North Korea to restrain itself from provocative actions. As North Korea continues to defy UN sanctions by proceeding with their nuclear and missile programs, President Donald Trump has warned that there is an absolute chance that the U.S. could have a “major, major conflict” with North Korea.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea.”
Pyongyang has a “byungjin” policy of “‘simultaneous development.” This process entails pursuing both GDP growth and nuclear weapons at the same time — although North Korea is subject to multiple sets of UN sanctions over its atomic and missile programs – among them a ban on luxuries, including snowmobiles and “recreational sports equipment,” according to the Daily Mail.
Just last Sunday, Pope Francis called for diplomatic efforts to ease North Korea tensions and for the UN to take the forefront in negotiating a resolution with the reclusive state. Pope Francis warned that “a good part of humanity” will be destroyed if tensions with North Korea escalate, according to CBS News. Francis says he would also urge the UN to use diplomacy and negotiation “because it’s the future of humanity.”
[Featured Image by Vincent Yu/AP Images]