A third ski area is reported to have opened in North Korea. 

Work on the new ski centre near the country’s northern city of Kanggye is reported to have only started in July but has been completed ahead of schedule according to the country’s media.

They say it has two ski runs complete with snow making.

North Korea’s ski ambitions are a matter of international political interest. The country’s second ski area, Masikryong or ‘Masik Pass’ (pictured) which opened in 2013 caused international controversy as there were concerns European companies had supplied lifts and snowmaking equipment against international sanctions, but it later transpired that equipment had been sold second hand via China where sanctions at the time on ‘luxury goods’ were not considered to cover ski equipment (by the Chinese authorities).

Stricter sanctions introduced more recently now appear to block such exports and comments from North Korean media indicate the lift used at the new ski area is made in North Korea.

North Korea had suggested that it might stage some events for the Olympics next month at Masik Pass but that was rejected by South Korea.  South Korea suggested a unified Korean team might compete at the 2018 Olympics but that was rejected by the North Koreans.  Most recently North Korea said that strict sanctions preluded their athletes from accessing good equipment to allow them to compete but international bodies said they could help with that.

Although Masik Pass is popularly reported as the first ski area in North Korea, at least one basic ski area did exist before it. Begaebong ski area (current status unknown) operated with a second hand double chairlift believed to have been donated as a gesture of goodwill by a European ski resort in the era before sanctions. It’s also a possibility that a lift at Masik Pass is that lift.

North Korean Leeder Kim Jong Un who has been a driving force behind North Korean ski initiatives with the stated aim of attracting foreign skiers was educated for a period in Switzerland as a child and is believed to have skied in the country during his time there.