Kim Jong-un’s pet project is aiming to improve tourism to North Korea. (news.com.au)
Located just a 2.5 hour drive east of Pyongyang, Masik Pass Ski Resort is North Korea’s first and only ski resort. Offering 11 ski runs, 4 lifts, and 120 rooms in a state-of-the-art hotel, the resort also includes amenities such as a swimming pool, bars, cafés, billiard tables, a karaoke room, a steam room and a dry sauna.
Kim Jong-un’s latest pet project, which cost an estimated $300 million, is an attempt to show that North Korea is as civilized and culturally advanced as any other country. Often derided for their isolationist policies, Kim Jong-un hopes the resort will stimulate tourism in the country in an effort to boost numbers from 200,000 visitors per year to 1 million by 2016.
The project has come under heavy criticism, with French, Austrian, and Swiss companies refusing to provide chairlift technology to the resort, which was called a “propaganda project” by the Swiss. Masik’s lifts were made in China. North Korea is infamous for indulging in extravagant, monumental projects while disregarding large economic issues like providing consistent electricity and reliable food for it’s citizens.
Just weeks after opening in January 2014, New Jersey based UriTours began to offer 5-day and 7-day trips to Masik Pass. Foreign visitors may be the resort’s best bet for income – only 5,500 North Koreans are skiiers out of a population of 24 million. That’s only 0.02% of the population.
It will be interesting to see how the world reacts to North Korea’s attempts to keep up with Western resorts – and if tourism to the Hermit Kingdom can improve.