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North Korea may be a tough place to live if you're the uncle or ex-girlfriend of its dictator or if you like food, but if you're one of the 0.02 percent of North Koreans who ski, it just got awesome.

Masik Pass Ski Resort, a pet project of Kim Jong-un (who, remember, spent some time in Switzerland as a teenager), has opened! It's North Korea's first ski resort, and though Kim Jong-un said it was for his citizens ("those from across the country can enjoy their winter camping by skiing, skating and sledging at the resort," KCNA writes), almost no one in North Korea skies and also it's way too expensive for them anyway. Passes cost $50, more than half the country's average monthly wage.

Whatever! While his people struggle to get by on their $100 a month, Kim reportedly spent $300 million to get this resort up and running by 2014. It wasn't easy: setbacks included landslides and France, Austria and Switzerland refusing to sell the country its ski lifts (a decision North Korea blasted as a "serious human rights abuse").

Obstacles overcome, Kim Jong-un stopped by Masik Pass to take it all in. Alone:


Here he is with a few friends, looking slightly more cheerful:


Here's a news report from his visit to the site's hotel, which comes with a pool and a ski shop and a lot of other things very few North Koreans will ever get to see in person:

And here's Kim Jong-un checking in to his new "world class" hotel. Room for one, please!


Athletic ability runs in Kim Jong-un's family. His father was famously either the best golfer the world has ever seen or a liar.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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