WONSAN, NORTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 04: North Korean boys finish up a ski lesson at Masikryong Ski Resort on February 04, 2019 near Wonsan, North Korea.

  • Life is bleak for most North Korean residents, their country fraught with high poverty rates and tight government control.
  • But over the past few years, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly spent millions of dollars building two ski resorts.
  • The Masikryong Ski Resort is one of them. Its almost R600 ticket price is out of reach for most residents.

North Korea is infamously secretive and repressive of its residents. Photos from inside its borders are rare. The news that we do receive from inside the country tells of a people living in fear and poverty, and consistently shown propaganda about the Kim Jong Un regime.

This winter, photos emerged from inside one of the country's two ski resorts, the Masikryong Ski Resort. With lift tickets costing $40 (almost R600), most residents of the country can't afford its entrance fee.

Keep scrolling for an inside look at one of North Korea's ski resorts.


North Korea has two ski resorts. The first is Masikryong Ski Resort, which opened on December 31, 2013.

Despite opening in 2013, it wasn't officially ready for the visitors who could afford a ticket until mid-January 2014, according to The Guardian.

The country's second resort, Kanggye Ski Resort, opened in January 2018, and only took a few months to build.


The entire complex was built in just 10 months by soldiers from the Korean People’s Army, though it's unclear how the country paid for it.

After completion, citizens of North Korea were inundated with propaganda encouraging them to work at "Masikryong speed."

The state claimed that the resort cost $300 million (R4,4 billion) to build, while others estimate the price tag at $30 million (R440 million). Where this money came from is unclear - North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world.


The resort includes nine different slopes, an ice skating rink, a ski school, and an entire winter park for children.

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


North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un commissioned the resort back in 2011.

It was speculated that Kim wanted to step out of his father's shadow - his father built a mountain resort on Mount Kumgang. It's also believed that Kim developed a fondness for skiing while he was attending school in Switzerland.


The United Nations Security Council doesn't allow North Korea to import luxury goods, which includes ski equipment. Masikryong was able to import technology and equipment through a loophole.

The resort has European snowmobiles and ski lifts that they were able to import. Since the resort was completed, the rules about what the country can and can't import have become more strict.


South Korea sent a group of athletes to Masikryong for a joint training program before the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

South Korean Olympic skiers trained at Masikryong to prepare for the 2018 Olympics which were held in Pyeongchang.


The resort takes many different currencies, including American dollars, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen, euros, and the North Korean won.

One North Korean won is equivalent to roughly $.0011.


The $40 entrance fee is about a month's salary in North Korea and not affordable for most locals.

The country's wealth disparity is rapidly expanding. Bruce Bennett, Senior International and Defence Researcher at the RAND corporation, told Business Insider that the "resort would be dedicated to the growing upper class and to friends of Kim Jong-Un".

In fact, the resort distills the growing wealth disparity in North Korea. While the average North Korean cannot afford to ski there, higher-income families can enjoy the slopes. They also reportedly receive care packages from the state.

Read more: 23 photos of North Korea that Kim Jong Un wouldn't want you to see


It costs around $100 (R1 460) per day for a foreign tourist to ski at the resort.

The National Post reported that it costs $100 to ski there as a tourist. The resort restricts the number of visitors to 2,000 per day.


According to Newsweek, two documentary filmmakers visited the resort in 2017 and took note of its emptiness.

"There's not one person coming down the big slope," said British snowboarderJamie Barrow in the documentary.


North Korean skiers ride in a cable car to the summit of the 1,360-metre Taehwa Peak at the resort on February 5, 2019.