North Korea rushes to finish lavish ski resort
MASIK PASS, North Korea (AP) - Kim Tae Yong, secretary-general of North Korea's ski association, views the sprawling alpine landscape before him with unabashed pride. Facing a strong, cold wind, he points to a dip in the rugged, tree-covered mountains and says the sunrise there is a sight of unmatched beauty, worthy of the nation's supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.
This is the Masik Pass ski resort, North Korea's latest megaproject, the product of 10 months of furious labour intended to show that this country, so often derided for its poverty and isolation, is as civilized and culturally advanced as any other.
The complex of ski runs, resort chalets and sleigh rides will formally open on Thursday, though late last month the main hotels appeared to be little more than shells, potholes filled the access roads and foundations were still being dug for secondary buildings.
Who will ski here? Perhaps Kim Jong Un, who reportedly enjoyed the sport as a teenager studying in Switzerland. By the ski official's estimate, there are only about 5,500 North Korean skiers in this country of 24 million - a skiing population of 0.02 percent.