Imagine hitting the slopes in North Korea! The hermit kingdom, infamous for its cosy military supply trade shenanigans with Russia, has flung open the doors of its luxury ski resorts in Pyongyang and Wonsan to Russian thrill-seekers. But let’s just say, not everyone is thrilled about this icy invitation.

North Korean SKi Resort / Twitter
North Korean SKi Resort / Twitter

 The Guardian, on March 31st, spilled the beans about North Korea’s luxury ski resorts rolling out the red carpet for Russians. These frosty retreats used to host around 5,000 foreign daredevils annually before the pandemic put a freeze on things. Now, it seems, North Korea is back in the game since February, and the vacation roulette is spinning again.

Kim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un /Twitter

The winter wonderland at the heart of the controversy is none other than Masikryong, Kim Jong-un’s pet project from the 2010s, that’s swallowed a cool 24 million pounds already. According to a report from Russia’s Far East Primorsky Krai, North Korea is upping the ante, constructing a whopper of a ski resort, complete with 17 hotels, 37 guest houses, and 29 shops, all to lure in the Russian snow bunnies.

Since early February, North Korea has been warming up to the idea of hoarding more tourists in May, just in time for Russian holidays. “This is just the beginning,” beamed Tatiana Markova, a representative of the Vostok Intour travel agency, as she pushed for reservations.

But not all tourists are ready to make a return reservation. Olga Shupalok raved, “100% satisfied” with the pure, unadulterated mountain trails. On the flip side, Yulia Mishukova was left cold, “I felt sorry for the frightened North Korean residents,” she confessed, “and I can’t ignore the fact that a one-day ski pass ($40) costs more than the average monthly wage. For ethical reasons, I will never go again.”

These tourists, about 100 Russian comrades, embarked on a four-day frolic in North Korea, touring Pyongyang and the ski resort. The Guardian spilled that over 200 Russians made the frosty pilgrimage to North Korea several times in February and March.

Russian travel agencies have set the bar at $750 for a group tour fee, packing in round-trip airfares from Vladivostok to Pyongyang on Air Koryo, transfers to and from the Masikryong ski resort, accommodation, and meals. The tourists also got to play tourist in Pyongyang, visiting Kim Il-sung Square, paying their respects to the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at Mansudae, and catching performances at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace before heading to the ski resort. However, a few Russian tourists reportedly had a frosty reception when they tried to hand out chocolates to children after the performance, only to have them confiscated.