Tuesday, January 14, 2014

North Korea - The World's Newest Ski Destination

Updated April 2016

North Korea's Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, Kim Jong-un, recently paid a visit to North Korea's first winter sports complex and world class hotel located near the port city of Wonsan on the country's east coast.  While the ski resort is officially open to all North Koreans that will be able to enjoy not only skiing but skating and camping as well, at $50 for a day pass, an average North Korean earning between $1000 and $2000 annually will not be partaking of what the facility has to offer on a very frequent basis.

Here is a quote from the original proposal for the Masik Development Project:

"It is very important for the D.P.R.K. to build a ski resort as it is aimed at the improvement of material and cultural lives of the people, and their physical training, by making an effective use of the mountains. As 80 percent of the territory is mountainous, it is very significant to build a resort, characteristic of highlands, and contribute to the physical enhancement and the cultural and sentimental lives of the people as well as the development of sports.

The government initiated and is dynamically propelling this project as a nation – wide concern. Skiing is particularly benefit able to the people concerned with mental labor, and the amateurs are growing in number over the world as it helps people to strengthen their physiques, flying like birds over the snow world which purifies their minds like white snow in the mountains very abundant in fresh air. Due to the rapid development of science and technology, the consumption of mental energy increased over the physical one, among people, which multiplies the mental fatigues and stresses, the dangerous preludes of various disastrous diseases. As required by the 21st century, an era characterized by the enjoyment of human civilization in good health, Masik – ryong Ski Resort would offer a new challenge to the world ski amateurs, desirous of new adventures, as a sports service and tour attraction.

Total construction costs for the project excluding land rent was projected to be $35.340 million for phase one with land rent and development costs estimated to be an additional $116.45 million.  The resort is estimated to run an annual net profit of $43.750 million assuming that there are 5000 users every day for 25 days per month over a ten month per year basis.   Keep in mind that North Korea's entire GDP for 2011 was estimated at $40 billion (purchasing power parity).

After his visit to the facility, Kim Jong-un stated that the general atmosphere of the hotel was "nice".

Here is another video showing the official opening of the resort and its first skiers:

Here is a Google Earth screen capture showing the resort's ski runs while under construction with a pin showing the longitude and latitude:

North Korea did run into a few problems during the construction phase.  According to North Korean Economic Watch, the nation was unable to acquire chair lifts and cable cars from Switzerland, France and Austria because the export of luxury sporting goods to the DPRK was banned under United Nations sanctions.  North Korea's Skiers Association stated that countries should not prohibit Pyongyang from buying equipment which does not produce any rocket or nuclear weapons and that "high-handed practices" by the United States are blocking the DPRK from importing equipment to be installed in mass sport facilities.

An estimate provided by Kim Tae Yong, a North Korean ski association official, there are about 5500 skiers in North Korea out of a population of 24 million.  DPRK officials also hopes to welcome foreign tourists to increase the nation's income of foreign currencies.


  1. I'm not a skier or a winter sports guy myself but to me it seems, while yes a alot of money to spend, when im sure they have other needs to tend to, something that will bring in money from other countries. Just because Kim Jong-un is in charge he still has to be careful not to do anything too brash or he himself could risk problems with the military. I think things like this and the visits by Rodman and other former basketball players show the Jung Un is interested in opening up N. Korea even if its only for sports. But you have to start someplace.

  2. Good for them! They have come up with a "viable distraction" from all the pain and misery they have put upon the people of North Korea.

  3. It's certainly intended for Chinese tourists.

  4. "Land rent"? Well, I suppose. If the land is owned by many small landowners, killing them all and burning down their houses could get expensive.