North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un hails 'impeccable' new Masik Pass ski resort

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 December, 2013, 11:35am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 10:32am

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visited a newly completed ski resort yesterday and ordered officials to open his pet project to the public as soon as possible, state media reported.

Kim took a test ride on a ski lift at the Masik Pass Ski Resort, which he said during a visit two weeks ago was "at the centre of the world's attention", the Korean Central News Agency said.

He noted "with great satisfaction" that everything was "impeccable" and gave instructions to serve the people well so that visitors may "keenly feel the loving care of the party".

Kim, who was educated in Switzerland, told officials to hold the opening ceremony at the earliest possible date, KCNA said.

The ski resort, in which the military played a leading role, was described by KCNA as a "great monumental structure in the era of Songun", referring to the state's "military first" policy. Kim was accompanied by top military leaders and, conspicuously, Pak Myong-Chol, a top sports official known to be associated with Kim's uncle who was executed earlier last month.

Jang Song-thaek, Kim's political mentor, was put to death in a shock purge on charges including corruption and plotting to overthrow the state.

The purge was the biggest political upheaval since Kim, aged around 30, took power after the death of his father and longtime ruler, Kim Jong-Il, in December 2011.

The Masik Pass Ski Resort made headlines in August when Switzerland blocked a US$7.6 million sale of ski lifts to Pyongyang, calling it a "propaganda project" for the impoverished Stalinist regime.

Featuring 110 kilometres of multi-level ski runs, a hotel, heliport and cable cars, the resort has been heavily promoted since Kim visited it in June and called for construction to be completed by the end of the year.

The young leader has shown a fondness for expensive, high-profile leisure projects in and around Pyongyang, including a huge new water park, an amusement park and a luxury horse- riding club.

He was photographed riding a roller coaster in the Rungna amusement park in the showpiece capital when it reopened in July 2012 following renovations which he had ordered.

Watch: Video of North Korea ski resort