North Korea is planning to expand the Masikryong Ski resort near Wonsan, tourism sources in the country have told NK News.
The expansion plans will involve the construction of a completely separate ski resort, which will be built close by and then physically linked to the existing Masikryong facilities.
“The manager at Masikryong Hotel told me that there were plans to build a second resort and join it up with Masik,” Sarah Davies of Koryo Tours told NK News.
“This won’t be happening this year and he didn’t specify exactly where the new resort would be but that’s the long term plan,” she added.
The Masikryong Ski resort has become emblematic of the large showcase construction projects undertaken by Kim Jong Un during his leadership.
The projects, perhaps especially Masikryong, have been highly controversial due to the costs involved that are ultimately being spent at the expense of fulfilling more critical needs of the North Korea people.
The Development Project planning document for Masikryong, obtained by NK News in 2013, revealed the total projected cost of constructing the current resort to be in excess of 120 million euros ($150m).
The figure also represents three quarters of the cost of the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) two-year DPRK operation, which, due to funding shortages, has been reduced to targeting 1.8 million North Koreans instead of the original target of 2.4 million.
While the size and scope the new resort is unknown, given the construction, land rental and land development costs of the original project, its is also likely to be expensive.
The planning document also contained projected profit margins for Masikryong, which were contingent upon the resort attracting 5,000 customers per day for 250 days out of the year.
Prior Accounts from Koryo Tours suggest these numbers have failed to materialize and the $50 a day ticket is beyond the reach of most North Koreans whose income is estimated by the CIA to be only $1,800 per year.
Tourist numbers have failed to fulfil the required quota and some companies have previously expressed reservations about the safety and medical facilities at the existing site.
Those concerns seemed to have been allayed in part and Davies also said they are working to bring in measures on par with international ski resorts, such as coloring the existing ski runs.
Featured Image: KCTV
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