Go inside the North Korean ski field where South Korea will join the North for Winter Olympics training

North Korean students gather at the peak while skiing at the Masik Pass Ski Resort on January 29, 2014.

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North Korean students gather at the peak while skiing at the Masik Pass Ski Resort on January 29, 2014.
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Jean H. Lee/Getty Images

As part of historic talks, North and South Korea have agreed to participate in joint ski training at North Korea’s Masikryong Ski Resort, ahead of next month’s Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Though South Korea won’t be sending any of its Olympians – national reserves and promising youth skiers are its most likely candidates – it will have to navigate UN sanctions that prohibit payments to North Korea for things like accommodation and other expenses.

But intrigue surrounds Masikryong.

Work began on the resort in 2013, two years after South Korea was chosen to host the Games.

The giant ski resort appears to be a crucial part of Kim Jong Un’s plan to expand leisure facilities across the country, in hopes of raising standards of living.Beach resorts and water parks have already proved popular for locals who can afford the luxury.

Take a look at what it’s like to hit the slopes in North Korea.


Masikryong Ski Resort is a pet-project of Kim Jong Un, who is believed to have developed a love for skiing while studying in Switzerland as a teenager.

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KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Reuters


The resort, also known as Masik Pass, is a two-hour drive east of Pyongyang and close to the port city Wonsan. It cost an estimated $30 million.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


There are nine main runs for experienced skiers and two slopes for beginners. One run is more than 5 kilometers long.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Koryo Group


In 2017, a one-day lift pass with ski hire cost foreign tourists $80. Locals pay about $40.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

That’s about a month’s salary in North Korea and just not affordable for most locals. The resort’s few local visitors usually come on cheaper group trips.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: South China Morning Post


Out on the slopes many locals take part in ski camps.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

A screen on the slopes displays music videos of popular North Korean songs, as well as statistics about mountain conditions.

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Jean H. Lee/Getty Images

Kim made repeated visits to the resort and gave “guidance” 144 times during its construction. Here, a man can be seen taking notes.

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REUTERS/KCNA

Source: South China Morning Post


There are 120 hotel rooms. Facilities include a swimming pool, billiard tables, a karaoke room, and a sauna.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: CNN


The resort has an impressive lobby and apparently offers internet in a “communication room” at a cost of $6 an hour.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


There are also four medical centers at the resort, but their facilities are “rudimentary.”

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Koryo Group


When the resort launched, North Korea expected 5,000 customers a day which was projected to earn the regime $43.75 million per year.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: NK News


But the slopes are often deserted.

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Jean H. Lee/Getty Images

This is Kim Chol-Nam, a 31-year-old worker at the ski-hire desk.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

The resort was built by the Korean People’s Army and reports indicate work gangs, which include young teenagers, work to keep it open.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: NBC News


North Korea approached Swiss companies to provide chair-lifts and cable cars, but the order was prohibited by government sanctions on luxury sporting equipment. Austria and France also turned down the orders.

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Reuters, Washington Post


The resort eventually secured chair-lifts from a mystery supplier.

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Jean H. Lee/Getty Images

These are two of the chair-lift operators.

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Jean H. Lee/Getty Images

The resort also has a “magic carpet” lift that pulls skiers up a hill.

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Jean H. Lee/Getty Images

Lastly, here’s what it’s like to go skiing on the slopes according to the Pyongyang bureau chief for the Associated Press.

Source: Eric Talmadge/ Twitter