In the wake of a New Year’s Day address from Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un announcing his willingness to negotiate with South Korea over the North’s participation in the upcoming winter Olympics, North Korean state media announced Friday the completion of the country’s second ski resort in the area of Kanggye.
In typical state media fashion, the project is being lauded as a major achievement that glorifies North Korea’s otherworldly power and capabilities (their words, not mine). “The construction of a ski resort in accordance with the habits of the socialist civilized world has created another public sports base that will contribute to strengthening the workers and youth students as owners of solid physical strength,” explained Ryugyong news, who announced the completion of the project. “In recognition of the supreme will of the people who want our people to enjoy the best of civilization at the highest level.”
Ryugyong goes on to explain that the construction of the skiing area was done “in a short period of less than a month.” In fact news of construction first broke back in July during which state-run DPRK Today explained the resort would produce its own snow, reports the BBC.
The Hermit Kingdom’s attraction to ski resorts, besides being a manner through which to show the world they are surviving under crippling UN sanctions, is of yet unclear. Back in 2013, Kim Jong-un celebrated the opening of the country’s first ski resort in Masikryong, Masik Pass. The Daily Mail called the project one of many vanity projects undertaken by Kim, this one specifically inspired by his time studying in Switzerland. Korea expert Andrei Lankov told the Daily Mail last April, “He just decided to emulate what he saw there. He saw wonderful mountains in Korea, which are indeed beautiful, and he said why not make our country into a tourist destination like Switzerland so we can make a lot of money like Switzerland does.”
As it happens, Masik Pass hasn’t had nearly the sort of draw as the Alps. As a matter of fact, try no draw. According to the BBC, it’s a virtual ghost town:
Not to mention, it had to be a bit embarrassing when three of the world’s top snowboarders declined an invite to Masik Pass when just days before their scheduled departure the Kim regime carried out an H-bomb test.
Why the DRPK would construct a second resort likely to suffer the same fate as the first, God only knows. For the handful who do get to ride them, the silver lining is not having to wait in any lift lines. So there’s that.