The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year.
Switzerland blocks deal to sell ski lifts to North Korea
Switzerland says it has blocked a deal to sell top-notch ski lifts to North Korea, in a move that could delay what is seen as leader Kim Jong-un's pet ski resort project.
Swiss company Bartholet Maschinenbau had reportedly all but agreed to sell mechanical chair lifts and cable cars to Pyongyang to help fulfil Kim's vision of a "world class" ski resort, being built as rival South Korea prepares to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The Masik ski resort has been heavily promoted by the North's propaganda machine since Kim visited it in June and proclaimed that the facility, with 110 kilometres of multi-level ski runs, a hotel, heliport and cable cars, should be completed by the end of the year.
But Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said it had blocked the deal, reportedly worth 7 million Swiss francs (HK$58 million), after the Swiss government in early July expanded its sanctions on North Korea.
"This is obviously a prestigious propaganda project for the regime," Seco spokeswoman Marie Avet said.
According to a report in Swiss daily Le Temps yesterday, Austrian and French companies had already turned down the North Korean order "for political reasons".
North Korea has a special link to Switzerland - Kim Jong-un attended secondary school near Bern, without revealing his true identity, and reportedly learned to ski on the slopes in the small Alpine country.