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How much do you know about North Korea’s Yangdok spa resort & Masikryong Ski Resort?

North Korea began operation of the Yangdok
spa resort, newly opened last month in the country’s central region, on January 10. Earlier on January 8, Masikryong Ski Resort,
located on its east coast, also began receiving tourists for this season. Both are one of the pet projects of North
Korean leader Kim Jong-un to nurture the tourism industry. However, questions still remain over whether
North Korea is safe enough for foreigners to tour, as shown in the case of Park Wang-ja
or Otto Warmbier. This week North Korea Now will look into the
North’s Yangdok spa resort and Masikryong Ski Resort, which seem as apparent efforts
to attract more foreign tourists in the face of global sanctions crippling its economy. The official name of Yangdok spa resort is
Yangdok Hot Spring Cultural Recreation Center, located in the North’s South Pyongan Province. Let’s take a look at the related report
of Korean Central TV first. The broadcast began with orchestral music
and sound effects of bubbling water, presenting aerial drone shots of the hotels, ski grounds,
indoor and outdoor spas, and equestrian grounds. It then showed the interior of lobbies and
hotel rooms, amenities such as vending machines in covered walkways, drink stands at the indoor
pools, and the new ski equipment. It is a city-like resort with an area of 1.66
million square meters. Representing Yangdok spa resort is the hot
spring, and above all, the hot spring is said to have outstanding healing effects. Kim had guided its construction through seven
visits between August 2018 and December 2019, highlighting his strong determination to build
a competitive tourism industry. Masikryong Ski Resort is also one of the pet
projects of the leader, who reportedly enjoyed skiing while attending school in Switzerland
in the early 1990s. The North completed the lavish ski resort
on the outskirts of eastern city of Wonsan in December 2013. The construction of the ski resort came as
North Korea has been under a set of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council for its
nuclear and missile tests. According to a North Korean propaganda website,
the resort is about 14 million square meters in its total area, and has 10 slopes, which
are 40 meters to 120 meters wide. It added that the average length of the slopes
is 1,700 meters, with one of them being over 5,000 meters high. At the resort, where high-priced European
equipment such as Swedish snowmaking machines and Italian snowplows were sometimes disputed
as a violation of sanctions, South and North Korean skiers held joint training sessions
ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. As mentioned earlier, it is true that North
Korea, a reclusive country, is not yet easy for foreigners to make a comfortable visit. For example, the United States has imposed
a ban on its people making trips to the North after the release of Otto Warmbier, an American
college student. He died in 2017 shortly after being sent home
from Pyongyang in a coma following a 17-month detention in North Korea. Back in 2008, a South Korean tourist, Park
Wang-ja, was also killed by a North Korean guard at Mount Kumgang resort on the North’s
east coast. North Korea seems to be making every effort
to boost its tourism industry, which is not subject to sanctions, at a time when strong
sanctions on the North have blocked the channel of making foreign currency. However, some observers say that it is unclear
whether the North will be able to achieve its desired goal due to the aforementioned
circumstances. What are your thoughts on this? Please let me know in the comments below and
thank you for watching North Korea Now.

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