North Korea was due to open its first multi-million dollar Masik Pass ski resort on Thursday, but there are doubts whether it will be ready in time.
Masik Pass will have ski runs, ski lifts, resort chalets and sleigh rides.
However, its two hotels are little more than empty shells, while the access road is filled with potholes, the AP news agency reported after a visit to the site in September.
There are also questions about who will use the resort once it is completed.
It is estimated that there are only about 5,500 North Korean skiers in a country with a population of 24 million people – equivalent to about 0.02% of the total.
Correspondents say that the Masik Pass ski resort – located in the secluded depths of North Korea’s east coast – is the country’s latest megaproject, the product of 10 months of intensive labor.
It is intended to show that Communist North Korea is as civilized and culturally advanced as any other country, despite its reputation for poverty and isolation.
North Korea was due to open its first multi-million dollar Masik Pass ski resort on Thursday, but there are doubts whether it will be ready in time
Billboards around the construction site urge workers to finish the job by Thursday’s deadline, the 68th anniversary of the formation of the Korean Workers’ Party. But the construction has reportedly been delayed by heavy rains and landslides.
“Full attack. March forward. Let’s absolutely finish building Masik Pass ski resort within this year by launching a full aggressive war,” one sign reads.
Masik Pass ski resort is believed to be a pet project of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who reportedly skied when he attended secondary school in Switzerland under an assumed name.
An AP reporter who recently visited Masik’s ski runs says that they consist of long stretches of bright-brown dirt dotted with rocks, weeds and patches of stubborn grass. The pistes cut their way through the trees to converge at the hotel construction site below.
Foundations were still being dug. Two simple lifts were being installed, but neither was working at the time.
Correspondents say that North Korea is eager to build the resort because it wants to win more medals in the Winter Olympics. Sport is seen as a useful way of mobilizing the masses and Pyongyang wants to encourage more tourism.
“It will have a big impact on the economy,” North Korean Academy of Social Science economist Ri Ki Song told AP.
“We are now trying to build a lot of tourism sites, and skiing is the kind of sport that developed countries enjoy. It will also be a place for our own people to use.”
Switzerland has decided to block a deal to sell ski lifts to North Korea in the latest setback for leader Kim Jong-un’s pet ski resort project.
The Swiss government cited expanded sanctions on luxury exports to North Korea.
Heavy rains and landslides have already delayed the project, viewed as a response to South Korea hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Kim Jong-un has ordered the army to complete the resort by year’s end.
Switzerland has decided to block a deal to sell ski lifts to North Korea in the latest setback for leader Kim Jong-un’s pet ski resort project
The North Korean leader has repeatedly visited the Masik ski resort site and promoted it as an attempt to enhance the lifestyle of the nation’s citizens.
But Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) labelled the resort a “prestigious propaganda project for the regime”.
“It is inconceivable that this resort will be used by the general public,” Seco spokeswoman Marie Avet said.
It is thought Kim Jong-un learned to ski in Bern, where he attended secondary school without revealing his true identity.
The ski lift deal with Swiss company Bartholet Maschinenbau, valued at more than $7 million, is reportedly the third to fall through due to sanctions.
Austrian and French manufacturers also turned down deals, citing political reasons.
Ratatouille, a snowboarding opossum, has gone viral on the Internet with almost 5,000 hits on YouTube in one day.
Ratatouille is an opossum occasionally seen riding his little snowboard at the Liberty Ski Resort in Emmitsburg, Pennsylvania. He even has a 2011-to-2012 ski pass registered under his name, Ratatouille Bowers, there.
The opossum shot to fame after employees at Liberty Ski Resort in Emmitsburg uploaded a video of the snowboarder showing off his skills. Unfortunately, the resort closed earlier this week, ending Ratatouille’s season. There is no word yet on whether the snowboarding sensation will return next season.
Ratatouille is an opossum occasionally seen riding his little snowboard at the Liberty Ski Resort in Emmitsburg, Pennsylvania
Ratatouille usually likes to play dead, but he recently showed off some real skills at the Liberty Ski Resort.
In the video, the opossum can be seen speeding past other skiers, while occasionally pausing to pose by his snowboard.
Ratatouille, who has been described as “the world’s greatest snowboarding opossum”, dons a green stripy jumper in the one-minute video which has already attracted a keen following.
Internet users reacted with delight at the hilarious marsupial. One person, who posted under the name extremesnowboardvids, said: “That guy’s a better snowboarder than my girlfriend.”