Kim Jong-un ordered the North Korean military earlier this year to start work on a “world-class” ski resort, to rival the winter sports facilities being built in South Korea to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. But North Korea has expressed its extreme anger at Switzerland after it blocked a deal to supply key equipment for a ski resort, a pet project of Kim Jong-un's.
Describing the resort as a “gigantic patriotic work’’, Mr Kim has said he wanted the facility – with 69 miles (110 kilometres) of multilevel ski runs, a hotel, heliport and cable cars – completed by the end of the year. He acknowledged the apparently “world startling labour feats the builders have performed in the construction”.
The North's Skiers Association said on Saturday that ski courses have already been built with a hotel and other facilities nearing completion. But "some countries" are blocking the import of "cableway equipment" for the resort, it said in a statement. "If the governments of some countries consider that ordinary inhabitants of (North Korea) should not be allowed to use the ski resort, it is an unpardonable insult to its social system and people."
The North's association insisted the resort was aimed at providing its citizens with "highly civilized and happy living conditions and make them enjoy all blessings".
Mr Kim is a known fan of basketball but spent seven years at international schools near the Swiss city of Berne from 1993, where he may have picked up an interest in skiing. His father and former leader was a famously keen sportsman.
Kim Jong-il first picked up a golf club in 1994, at North Korea’s only golf course, and shot a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one. Satisfied with his performance, he reportedly immediately declared his retirement from the sport.