January 26, 2021

Every person working in tourism is making a living not making bombs

Author of Bradt Guide to North Korea says criticism of DPRK investment in tourism and leisure is misplaced

We’ve seen a great deal in the western press about the Masik Pass Ski resort being built near Wonsan, and we could easily be fooled by the anti-hype that it’s the only game in town, it’s the DPRK’s latest ‘silver bullet’, ‘get rich quick’ panacea solution for its economy.

Whether North Korea wants to remodel itself as the Thailand of North East Asia, I don’t know. We’re a very long way from that and there’s time to avoid such a corrupted outcome. But a cursory look at the list of projects here shows the ski resort and its leisure-related ilk rank alongside many others in infrastructure, housing and industry, either underway or completed under Kim Jong Un. We see power stations, apartment blocks for teachers and scientists, agricultural projects, roads, rail-lines, sea and air ports being built, all big-spend projects. Tourism might seem to loom large in such a list because for years it didn’t really figure at all - the scale of this initiative is new.