Inside North Korea’s Luxury Ski Resort
"When we come [to North Korea], they think we're the devil and we think they're robots. It turns out neither of us is right."
Earlier this year, snowboarder Jamie Barrow ventured into North Korea, eager to experience Kim Jong-un’s much-talked-about Masikyrong Ski Resort. At the time of construction, Masikyrong was widely condemned as a waste of money and a “vanity project”. But for Barrow, who holds the British Snowboard speed record, the desire to visit North Korea’s premier ski resort was born out of curiosity, politics aside.
“I’m always looking for exciting new projects. When I found out there was a ski resort in North Korea, I couldn’t miss the opportunity.”
On arrival, Barrow and his companions are given a tour of Masikryong’s famously lavish ski hotel (including Dennis Rodman’s favoured suite), after which they set off to explore the slopes. As it turns out, Masikryong is, as reported, largely empty.
“It seems like everyone is down on the beginner slopes and intermediate slopes, so the slopes at the top—there’s not one person coming down. It’s completely free for us.”
“It’s our last day in the DPRK and you never get this: fresh powder, a sunny sky, and absolutely no one else on the slopes.”
Of course, the documentary isn’t totally devoid of politics. At the 8-minute mark, a local staff member is quick to praise the mastermind behind Masikyrong, the DPRK’s mercurial leader.
“Our Marshall Kim Jong-un built a hotel and a ski resort for the people to enjoy. Now you hear the laughter of people ringing in the mountains.”