North Korea opens new ski resort before Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang

Ronan J O'Shea
Children at Masikryong Ski Resort in North Korea: Ed Jones/Getty Images

With the 2018 Winter Olympics set to kick off on 9 February in Pyeongchang, South Korea, its northern neighbour North Korea has announced the opening of a new ski resort, Kanggye.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had the Masikryong ski resort built in the country's south-east in 2013.

Kanggye Ski Resort is the second to be built in the country in the last five years but is much smaller than Masikryong.

Construction on the new resort only began 10 months ago in Kanggye, a city 197 miles from capital city Pyongyang and close to the country's border with China. At the time, state-led DPRK Today news outlet provided a detailed announcement:

"A ski area is being constructed in the stone district of Kanggye City.The ski area with a total area of ​​over 50,000 ㎡ will consist of two ski resorts, a square, a service building, a water source, and a parking lot. The length and width of the main ski slope are 530m and 40m respectively, and the length and width of the basic ski slope and the sled slope are 200m and 30m respectively.

"The ski area is being constructed with a 450m3 water source map, which will store water to produce snow so that it will not interfere with skiing even if snow does not come in winter. The drag railing and the horizontal elevator to be used in the main areas have already been produced by our strengths and techniques in the machine shops of Doan, and are now in the assembly phase."

North Korea and South Korea are set to participate in IOC talks on Saturday in Switzerland to discuss the possibility of fielding a joint women's ice hockey team, which would be a first for the event.

In a statement provided to The Independent, an IOC spokesperson said: “We have taken note of a number of interesting proposals from different sources. We are sure that the two Korean delegations will present their ideas and proposals at the meeting on Saturday in Lausanne. This will then enable the IOC to carefully evaluate the consequences and the potential impact on the Olympic Games and the Olympic competitions.

"There are many considerations with regard to the impact of these proposals on the other participating NOCs and athletes. After having taken all this into consideration, the IOC will take its final decisions on Saturday in Lausanne.”

Masikryong ski resort was built in 2013 (Ed Jones/Getty Images)

On 15 January, talks were also held between the North and South at Panmunjom - just north of the border between the two countries - to reach an agreement on North Korea sending an "art troupe" to perform at the Olympics. DPRK Today said: "At the talks both sides had a sincere discussion on the practical matters related to the performances by the north side's art troupe to be dispatched to the south side's area with the 23rd Winter Olympics as an occasion".

The two countries reportedly issued a joint press release, saying that North Korea will dispatch its art troupe, comprised of more than 140 members, to South Korea to perform in Kangrung and Seoul.

The Telegraph reported that the troupe would play pre-partition, traditional Korean folk songs familiar to members of both sides in order to avoid controversy.