Go inside the North Korean ski resort that Kim Jong Un spent millions to build

Carl Court/Getty ImagesWONSAN, NORTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 04: North Korean boys finish up a ski lesson at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 04, 2019 near Wonsan, North Korea.

North Korea is infamously secretive and repressive of its residents. Photos from inside its borders are rare. The news that we do receive from inside the country tells of a people living in fear and poverty, and consistently shown propaganda about the Kim Jong Un regime.

This winter, photos emerged from inside one of the country’s two ski resorts, the Masikryong Ski Resort. With lift tickets costing $US40, most residents of the country can’t afford its entrance fee.

Keep scrolling for an inside look at one of North Korea’s ski resorts.


North Korea has two ski resorts. The first is Masikryong Ski Resort, which opened on December 31, 2013.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesMasikryong Ski Resort is pictured on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

Despite opening in 2013, it wasn’t officially ready for the visitors who could afford a ticket until mid-January 2014, according to The Guardian.

The country’s second resort, Kanggye Ski Resort, opened in January 2018, and only took a few months to build.


The entire complex was built in just 10 months by soldiers from the Korean People‚Äôs Army, though it’s unclear how the country paid for it.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesChildren ride on a sled at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 4, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

After completion, citizens of North Korea were inundated with propaganda encouraging them to work at “Masikryong speed.”

The state claimed that the resort cost $US300 million to build, while others estimate the price tag at $US30 million. Where this money came from is unclear – North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world.


The resort includes nine different slopes, an ice skating rink, a ski school, and an entire winter park for children.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesNorth Korean women skate on an ice rink at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

There are 120 hotel rooms. Facilities include a swimming pool, billiard tables, a karaoke room, and a sauna.


North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un commissioned the resort back in 2011.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesPeople ski on a lower slope at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

It was speculated that Kim wanted to step out of his father’s shadow – his father built a mountain resort on Mount Kumgang. It’s also believed that Kim developed a fondness for skiing while he was attending school in Switzerland.


The United Nations Security Council doesn’t allow North Korea to import luxury goods, which includes ski equipment. Masikryong was able to import technology and equipment through a loophole.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesNorth Korean skiers disembark from a cable car at the summit of the 1,360-meter Taehwa Peak at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

The resort has European snowmobiles and ski lifts that they were able to import. Since the resort was completed, the rules about what the country can and can’t import have become more strict.


South Korea sent a group of athletes to Masikryong for a joint training program before the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesA North Korean woman pulls a child in a sled at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea

South Korean Olympic skiers trained at Masikryong to prepare for the 2018 Olympics which were held in Pyeongchang.


The resort takes many different currencies, including American dollars, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen, euros, and the North Korean won.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesNorth Korean boys finish up a ski lesson at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 4, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

One North Korean won is equivalent to roughly $US.0011.


The $US40 entrance fee is about a month’s salary in North Korea and not affordable for most locals.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesA North Korean girl sits on a sled at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

The country’s wealth disparity is rapidly expanding. Bruce Bennett, Senior International and Defence Researcher at the RAND corporation, told Business Insider that the “resort would be dedicated to the growing upper class and to friends of Kim Jong-Un.”

In fact, the resort distills the growing wealth disparity in North Korea. While the average North Korean cannot afford to ski there, higher-income families can enjoy the slopes. They also reportedly receive care packages from the state.


Read more:
23 photos of North Korea that Kim Jong Un wouldn’t want you to see


It costs around $US100 per day for a foreign tourist to ski at the resort.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesNorth Korean children queue at a cable car station at a lower slope at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

The National Post reported that it costs $US100 to ski there as a tourist. The resort restricts the number of visitors to 2,000 per day.


According to Newsweek, two documentary filmmakers visited the resort in 2017 and took note of its emptiness.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesA North Korean man prepares to snowboard from the summit of the 1,360-meter Taehwa Peak at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

“There’s not one person coming down the big slope,” said British snowboarderJamie Barrow in the documentary.


North Korean skiers ride in a cable car to the summit of the 1,360-meter Taehwa Peak at the resort on February 5, 2019.

Carl Court/Getty ImagesNorth Korean skiers ride in a cable car to the summit of the 1,360-meter Taehwa Peak at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 5, 2019, near Wonsan, North Korea.

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