Tag Archives: dictatorship

The Military-Industrial-Ski-Resort-Complex

This undated picture released by North KThe demented machinations of the world’s greatest living despot, Kim Jung-un, continue. This time the great dictator is on the piste, inspecting a North Korean ski resort newly outfitted with two chair-lifts. And, no Dennis Rodman in sight.

From the Guardian:

It may not have the fir-lined pistes and abundant glühwein of the Swiss resorts of Linden or Wichtracht, close to where Kim Jong-un was educated, but the North Korean leader’s new ski resort at least has a ski lift.

In pictures released by the Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday, Kim can be seen riding the chair lift and admiring the empty pistes.

In August, Switzerland refused to supply machinery to North Korea in a £4.5m deal, describing it as a “propaganda” project, but North Korea has managed to acquire two ski lifts.

Kim took a test ride on one at the Masik Pass ski resort, which he said was “at the centre of the world’s attention”.

He noted “with great satisfaction” that everything was “impeccable” and ordered the authorities to serve the people well so that visitors may “keenly feel the loving care of the party”. He also commanded that the opening ceremony should be held at the earliest possible date.

The resort was described by the news agency as a “great monumental structure in the era of Songun,” referring to the nation’s “military first” policy.

Thousands of soldiers and workers, so called “shock brigades”, built the slopes, hotels and amenities. Earlier this year reporters witnessed workers pounding at the stone with hammers, young women marching with shovels over their shoulders and minivans equipped with loudspeakers blasting patriotic music into the mountain air.

Kim was educated in Berne, Switzerland, where mountains were the backdrop to his studies. Some have speculated that he must have skied during his time there as well as indulging in his often-reported love of basketball.

At the resort, Kim was accompanied by military leaders and Pak Myong-chol, a sports official known to have been associated with Kim’s late uncle who was executed this month.

Jang Song-thaek, Kim’s mentor, was put to death on charges including corruption and plotting to overthrow the state.

The execution was the biggest upheaval since Kim inherited power after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.

Kim visited the resort in June and commanded that work be finished by the end of the year. In the new photographs, he can be seen visiting a hotel room, a spa and a ski shop.

The 30-year-old likes to be associated with expensive, high-profile leisure projects as well as the more frequent party congresses and military inspections. Projects associated with him include a new water park, an amusement park and a horse riding club.

The Munsu water park in Pyongyang opened in October and Kim was photographed in a cinema in the newly-renovated Rungna people’s amusement park. State media also showed footage of Kim on a rollercoaster in the same park.

North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world with an estimated per capita GDP of under £1,100. Government attempts to increase economic growth are often frustrated by the fear of opening the country to foreign influence.

Read the entire article here.

Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects Masik Pass ski resort, Kangwon province. Courtesy of the AFP/Getty Images, Guardian.

Dangerous Foreign Films

The next time you cringe because your date or significant other wants to go see a foreign movie with you count your blessings. After all, you don’t live in North Korea.

So, take a deep breath and go see La Dolce Vita, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Rashomon.

From the Telegraph:

South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported that the co-ordinated public executions took place in seven separate cities earlier this month.

In one case, the local authorities rounded up 10,000 people, including children, and forced them to watch, it reported.

Those put to death were found guilty by the state of minor misdemeanors, including watching videos of South Korean television programmes or possessing a Bible.

Sources told the paper that witnesses saw eight people tied to stakes in the Shinpoong Stadium, in Kangwon Province, before having sacks placed over their heads and being executed by soldiers firing machineguns.

“I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were so riddled by machinegun fire that they were hard to identify afterwards,” the source said.

Relatives and friends of the victims were reportedly sent to prison camps, a tactic that North Korea frequently uses to dissuade anyone from breaking the law.

“Reports on public executions across the country would be certain to have a chilling effect on the rest of the people,” Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea analyst with The International Crisis Group in Seoul, said. “All these people want to do is to survive and for their families to survive. The incentives for not breaking the law are very clear now.”

The mass executions could signal a broader crackdown on any hints of discontent among the population – and even rival groups in Pyongyang – against the rule of Kim Jong-un, who came to power after the death of his father in December 2011.

In a new report, the Rand Corporation think tank claims that Kim survived an assassination attempt in 2012 and that his personal security has since been stepped up dramatically. The report concurs with South Korean intelligence sources that stated in March that a faction within the North Korean army had been involved in an attempt on Kim’s life in November of last year.

Read the entire article here.

Image: Kim Jong-un. Supreme leader of North Korea. Courtesy of Time.