North Korea unveiled its first ski resort, with photos emerging in December and January of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un riding a ski lift and smiling at the top of a ski slope.
The ski resort opened on January 1 and has already had one particularly high-profile celebrity visitor: former NBA star and controversial friend to North Korea, Dennis Rodman. Rodman visited the resort while on a highly-criticized "basketball diplomacy" trip in early January.
Simon Cockerell, a Beijing-based tour guide, wrote about his visit to the ski reort: "On my arrival at Masik on January 12th who was I immediately run into but Dennis Rodman!"
The ski resort, located in Masik, Kangwon province, is what Cockerelll described as "very fancy and comfortable" with 120 rooms in two buildings as well as a swimming pool, saunas, cafes, bars, billiards, and karaoke. Foreign visitors must book through a tour group company.
Its construction was highly controversial and North Korea struggled to obtain ski lifts, a technology it could not manufacture in-country. Austrian, French, and even Swiss companies refused to do business with North Korea, in line with UN sanctions prohibiting the sale of luxury goods to North Korea.
It is unclear how the ski lifts were obtained for the now-open ski resort.
[CNN] [Washington Post]