By Simon Cockerell, Aug 27 2013
On Sunday 25th August I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the construction site of the Masik-Ryong ski resort, located near the east coast city of Wonsan. This ski resort has been in the local and international news since its construction was announced, (most recently we’ve heard stories about the Swiss government blocking sales of ski-lifts to the resort) – it was very interesting to be able to see the project while it is still being built.
Some of our local colleagues had been to the site a few weeks ago and reported that foundations had been laid for the main hotel building but when I visited I could see that the structure of the hotel is already up, fast work indeed. I could also see the outlines of the ski slopes as well as the main entrance to the site, a ski-lift station, and other parts of the project. I was there as part of a delegation of foreign tour operators to North Korea invited by our local partner, mostly Chinese agents of course but also some from Europe, Malaysia, US, and so on.
The construction site was very busy with people at work all over the place, almost all are soldiers as the project is being carried out using army construction brigades for the labour (this is very common on large-scale projects in the DPRK).
The temporary workers housing is located at the foot of the hill that leads from the Pyongyang-Wonsan highway up to the start of the ski resort and along the road there are the usual propaganda signs and exhortations to the workers to work hard, also as with all farms, factories, and construction sites in North Korea you can see score-boards charting the progress of various work units taking part in the construction.
The DPRK has been making a great deal of publicity out of the construction of this ski resort and all over the country there are billboards and signs mentioning the new concept of ‘Masik-Ryong speed’ – a new slogan relating to rapid construction under the new leadership. The ski resort is the most prominent national project on-going at the moment and it has been declared that it will be complete at the end of this year, one way or another! We’ll keep an eye on the news and reports of how its going of course, recent news about the cancellation of the delivery of ski-lifts from Switzerland didn’t seem to faze the project director when I met him, he still declared with supreme confidence that the project will be completed at the end of the year and open for visitors both domestic and international in 2014. So if you’ve ever wanted to ride the slopes of the DPRK then watch this space…as always Koryo Tours will be the first to offer the chance to go skiing in North Korea!