North Korea has ample Stalinist architecture. It has a towering monument to the Dear Leader wearing a giant bronze anorak. It has the “hotel of doom”. It even has a theme park with knockoffs of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. But Kim Jong-un has decided something is missing: a world-class ski resort.
According to a report in The Telegraph, Kim, who was apparently schooled in the alpine arts while studying in Switzerland, recently made the trip to Masik Pass Skiing Ground to offer his “on the spot field guidance” on the building of the resort. Peaks near the site – which offers 68 miles worth of mountainside – rise to 4,400 feet. Perfect, the plan goes, for beginner, intermediate and advanced level powder hounds to shred through the snow come winter time. Not to mention a resort hotel, cable cars, even a heliport, according to state media.
The project is but one more strike in an ongoing North-South rivalry. Many believe Kim’s vision was inspired by South Korean city Pyeongchang’s winning bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Park Sang Kwon, head of inter-Korean automaker Pyeonghwa Motors, told Yonhap News Agency in January that “the North seems to want to develop a small ski resort first and build this up depending on demand.”
Apparently, Kim is so far pleased with progress. According to Korean Central News Agency, Kim “mounted an observation deck to hear a detailed report on the construction of the skiing ground.” It added, “He was greatly satisfied to learn that soldier-builders have constructed a skiing area on mountain ranges covering hundreds of thousands of square meters.”
Not to be beaten by Mother Nature, Kim has further ordered that the resort be completed in full by the coming winter.
A nearby military airfield is being considered as a potential airport for eager skiers, of whom Kim is confident there will be legions. To accommodate them, Kim has also ordered that clothing and equipment for the sport be manufactured domestically – a necessity in light of UN sanctions that prohibit the import of all luxury goods.
No matter. “A skiing wave will seize the country,” state media reported him as saying.