North Korea hasn’t exactly been reputable for their prime living conditions…until now. A country known for its poverty and nuclear hostility, is getting ready to open their newest attempt on improving their economy and reputation – the Masik Pass Ski Resort. Turns out, Kim Jong Un (supreme leader of North Korea) was into skiing as a kid, and as a result, he and his followers are rushing to finish what they consider to be a much needed boost for their economy. After ten months of unremitting labor, the country is demonstrating that they are as civilized and culturally relevant as their South Korean neighbors.
The resort is located on North Korea’s east coast, a stretch of land untouched by the modern hand, and will include three lifts, a resort for foreigners and a resort for North Koreans. Some are arguing that the ski resort is the country’s way of attracting more tourists and therefore more cash flow. Subsequently, that might not be the case here. Kim Jong-un, son of Kim Jong-il and the supreme leader of North Korea, has internally established that the country’s standard of living is just as important as nuclear development. By encouraging an interest in sports, the country is hoping to increase domestic stability, which in turn will better the economy.
The builders of the ski resort have seen their fair share of set backs in the last ten months. Due to restrictions prohibiting the sale of luxury goods to the North, the Swiss government halted plans for a company to sell North Korea millions of dollars worth of ski lift equipment. The Masik Pass Ski Resort is proving to be a more difficult project than initially anticipated. Torrential rains this summer have also seriously hampered construction.
NBC News reported that Kim Tae Yong, the ski association chief, was recorded saying, “We can make nuclear weapons and rockets. We can build a ski lift.”
Despite some setbacks, the resort officially opened on October 10th, the 68th anniversary of the Korean Workers Party. Regardless of the official launch, the ski resort is not finished. Most of it will be built in phase two, which will hopefully be completed by ski season. Outside leaders have expressed that while an interest in sports is an important factor in the moral of the population, it will do little to better the economy.
Economic growth aside, the Masik Pass Ski Resort will be a sight to see. With Masik as a training center, maybe North Korea will have world champion skiers of its own in the coming years. With South Korea hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, there is no doubt that motivation will be fueled.