North Korea’s Kim Jong-un extended an invitation to three of the world’s best snowboarders, Terje Haakonsen, Dan Liedahl, and Mike Ravelson to visit the country’s new ski resort this month and lead a seven day tour through the nation. The tour is no longer open for enrollment, but it extended to the public and will take place next week from January 9th to 16th. Each ticket includes travel from Beijing to Pyongyang, three meals a day, a chopper ride to Masik Pass, and seven nights accommodations, including a stay in Masikryong Hotel, which boasts “monogrammed gowns,” along with a swimming pool and sauna for $2,900. Daily lift passes at Masik Pass, which cost $35 USD daily, are not included.
According to The Economist, the resort opened in 2014, has ten runs across nearly 3,460 acres, cost $35 million dollars, and was built by soldiers from the Korean People’s Army in just ten months.
“Currently, most of the North Koreans we met at the resort prefer to ski,” says URI Tours, the North Korea-specific travel company facilitating the trip, on its website. “But we’re excited to introduce them to the culture and sport of snowboarding. We’ll also be holding free sessions with the riders for anyone who wants to pick up the basics of snowboarding or improve their skills.”
According to The Economist, only a few thousand ultra-wealthy North Koreans actually know how to ski. In 2014, the resort hosted only a few hundred skiers daily.
Pundits suspect that Kim Jong-Un is attempting to develop the impoverished North Korea’s tourism industry as a form of economic stimulation. According to The Telegraph, North Korea hopes to increase the current number of annual visitors from 100,000 to two million by 2020.
“Tourism can produce a lot of profit relative to the investment required, so that’s why our country is putting priority on it,” Kim Sang Hak, a senior economist at the country’s Academy of Social Sciences, told The Telegraph.
North Korea also hosted a bike tour, ski tour, and its first surf tour in 2015, and has at least four more surf trips hosted by URI tours planned in 2016.
Kim Jong-un has also been pursuing the development of a long-range nuclear missile that could reach America’s mainland, and issued characteristically bold threats in a speech just a few days ago.
“We will continue to work patiently to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional stability,” Kim Jong-un said in an annual New Year’s address. “But if invasive outsiders and provocateurs touch us even slightly, we will not be forgiving in the least and sternly answer with a merciless, holy war of justice.”
So…Snowboard trip anyone?