Everything You Need to Know About North Korea’s Luxury Ski Resort
North Korea’s secretive society is fascinating — and frightening. Still one of the few countries left under communist rule, the nation has remained isolated. Its leader, Kim Jung Un, is one of the most controversial figures in the news — he is known for being hotheaded and for developing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which has made the rest of the world very nervous.
What many don’t know about the Swiss-educated leader is that he loves to ski. So much that he had his soldiers build a very expensive ski resort — Masikryong — in 2013. Here’s what you need to know about Kim Jung Un’s luxurious ski resort, a stark contrast to the rest of the country’s experience of poverty, hunger, and human rights violations.
1. The basics
Masikryong translates to “mountain pass where horses rest,” according to Bloomberg. The luxury ski resort boasts 10 ski runs — and one is a whopping 16,700 feet long. At the bottom of the hills, a huge electronic screen shows propaganda videos for all the skiers to watch. Now that’s entertainment.
Next: An air of capitalism
2. You’ll also find these things at Masikryong
Near the resort stands an orange-colored, 11-story hotel with 120 rooms, a karaoke bar, and indoor swimming pool, a gym, and a children’s book room. You can buy North Korean purses in the store and if you’re a foreigner you can use the internet room. Guest room TVs feature channels the U.K., Japan, Russia, China, and Germany, but North Korean locals are not permitted to watch them.
Next: Trouble ahead?
3. Kim Jung Un might not be able to sustain it
According to Bloomberg, 2017 United Nations’ sanctions will make it more difficult for Kim Jung Un to maintain his ski resort. He took advantage of a luxury goods loophole in the U.N. Security Council resolution to import European-manufactured snowmobiles and other ski equipment for his resort but was not permitted to import a Swiss chairlift because of trade sanctions.
Instead, Kim Jong Un had to make due with a 30-year-old Austrian ski lift, which he bought from China. Looks like there will be trouble when he needs a new one.
Next: There’s another, newer resort in town
4. Kanggye Ski Resort opened in 2018
Kim Jung Un had another ski resort built and it was finished in January 2018. According to The Telegraph, the resort spans 12 acres and has a 1,739-foot main slope that both beginners and more experienced skiers can use. In addition, Kanggye has a dedicated, 656-foot beginner’s slope as well as accommodation and places to eat.
Next: VIP visitors
5. Famous people have visited Masikryong
It takes about two hours to fly to North Korea’s Kalma Airport — the closest to Masikryong — from Beijing. Many have taken the trip, included Chinese diplomats, former Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki, and former NBA great Dennis Rodman, who struck up an odd friendship with Kim Jung Un during his several trips to North Korea.
Next: Gossip galore
6. There is controversy surrounding the resort
According to NBC, Masikryong has had its share of scandal. In 2017, NBC journalists showed women and children clearing the snow along the bus route to the report. They were using axes and sticks, and human-rights activists became outraged over the footage.
Next: Pay to play
7. Here’s how much a ski day costs
In November 2017, a South Korean named Jin Chin Kyu visited the resort under a U.S. Green Card. According to Bloomberg, he reported that Masikryong accepts U.S. dollars, North Korean won, euro, yuan, and euro. The resort allows only 2,000 people in daily and it costs approximately $100 to ski for the day.
Next: U.S. guests
8. U.S. skiers used to go to Masikryong
Until the travel ban went into effect in 2017, approximately 1,00 U.S. citizens visited Masikryong a year, according to Bloomberg. To go now, you must have special permission. Not-so-fun fact: anyone who visits North Korea is advised to get his or her will in order and discuss funeral arrangements before the trip.
Next: North and South come together
9. The resort will host South Koreans
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that there will be “no problem” using Kim Jung Un’s resort for joint North and South Korean Olympic training and practice games. A South Korean inspection team visited Masikryong and reported that the slopes and snow were in “fine” condition and that Kalma is “well managed.”
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