• No Joke: North Korea Opens Ski Resort, Mountain Spa in Tourism Push

    Surge Summary: Wanting to boost its tourism industry (?), North Korea is opening a new mountain spa and ski resort. Also, the “Hermit Kingdom” is looking at creating “medical tourism services” for foreigners. Seriously, it is.

    Here’s a bit of news surely not a lot of folks had seen coming:

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has opened a new mountain spa and ski resort. Its purpose? To help people enjoy “high civilization under socialism”.

    (“High civilization”? “Socialism”? Not a coupling one often sees. They’re concepts increasingly revealed to be two mutually exclusive ideals.)

    The Associated Press’s Kim Tong-Hyung (via USA Today) writes:

    This development is another example of the North Korea’s using tourism exemptions in sanctions to fatten desperately needed revenues for its failing economy.

    Note: like its neighbor China’s reliance on its “Special Administrative Region” Hong Kong, we see here a Communist dictatorship dining out on capitalistic impulses; essentially conceding collectivism doesn’t work.

    Kim cut the ribbon during the ceremonial opening of the Yangdok Hot Spring Cultural Recreation Center and praised his soldiers for creating a “miracle and prefect edifice” that serves the ruling party’s efforts to guide people to modern civilization, a state media report said.

    North Korea’s state TV showed aerial footage of the resort, including its red-roofed hotels, hot spring spas, ski slope and horse-riding park.

    North Korean state media dutifully reported, in true propagandistic form, thousands of soldiers and flag-waving civilians and children who welcomed a smiling Kim at the site. He toured the facilities, even taking a solo chairlift ride above the ski slope.

    “(Kim) hardly repressed his happiness, saying that it has become possible to provide people with new culture, and one more plan of the Party to make our people enjoy high civilization under socialism as early as possible has come true,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

    Never mind the little people of Kim’s beleaguered nation who are literally starving – perhaps, at least, they’ll be able to do so in fine vacationing style!

    The Yangdok resort, which the North began building last year, has been one of Kim’s major development projects along with another mountain resort recently completed in the northern town of Samjiyon and a summer resort being built in the coastal town of Wonsan.

    And the weirdness doesn’t stop there:

    North Korea also last week announced the creation of a company dedicated to creating medical tourism services to foreign visitors at the country’s hot spring spas and state-run hospitals, where they will be able to receive cataract surgeries, dental implants and breast tumor treatments.

    … because the globe is surely teeming with individuals positively panting to receive medical treatment from the same bunch who tended to poor Otto Warmbier?

    North Korea has also demanded South Korea tear down its hotels and other facilities at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort after Kim declared that the country would redevelop the site on its own. The announcement came after months of frustration over the South’s unwillingness to defy U.S.-led sanctions and restart South Korean tours to the resort, which were suspended in 2008 after a North Korean guard fatally shot a South Korean tourist.

    For some peculiar reason, tourism is excluded from the daunting sanctions the U.N. Security Council has levied on the North over its nuclear weapons program. The penalties include a complete ban on vital exports like coal, textile and seafood and strict limitations on oil imports. The sanctions also demand that, by December, all U.N. members return to North Korea all North Korea laborers who have been working in their countries.

    Just when you think Kim and Company have plumbed the final depths of Kafkaesque bizarreness which have come to typify the “Hermit Kingdom” — a fresh detail like this comes along.

    What next? The Kim Jon Un International Dinner Theater? North Korea’s version of Disney World?

    The planet awaits with bated breath …

    HT: Associated Press’s Kim Tong-Hyung (via USA Today

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge.

    Image: Creative Commons; Public Domain Mark 1.0; Adapted from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/48164813417

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