Two weeks ago we had the chance to stop by Masikryong on the way back from our workshop in Wonsan. The DPRK has grandiose plans for Wonsan as a tourist destination, a big part of which will be the ski resort we've all heard so much about.
We arrived just after the season had ended, so the hills were bare and there were no other guests, creating a very The Shining vibe. But just as we arrived, the the skies opened and 5 inches of snow descended within a few hours, turning the pass into a really enchanting landscape.
Overall, the place seems fairly well built, though one can see that it was done fast and some of the trimmings are less than perfect. The design is quite modern and seems very much like a Chinese/European ski chalet. There are two main buildings, one with quite fancy, quality hotel rooms, a very nice pool and sauna, a communication room with internet for $6 per hour and a 9th floor bar with a lovely view. The other building hosts the ski equipment rental area and dorm-style rooms, presumably for the work-teams and youth groups they'll be bringing up for vacations.
One weird thing we noticed was the prices seemed to be all over the place. In the snack shop you could find cartons of 100% juice imported from Thailand for $2. In the restaurant, Tempura was 70 cents and a serving of pork ribs was $1.50.
Yet in the clothing shop, this was going on:
I'm no expert, but a quick good search reveals that Carrera helmets go for about $40. We suspect that whoever is running it hasn't yet had time to sit down and think about a pricing strategy that will actually move these things - even privileged locals can't afford this and foreigners aren't going to buy it. Especially when you can rent all ski equipment, including clothes, quite inexpensively.
They didn't really run it a full season, it was only ready to go in mid-January and I'm sure the management had a lot of other things to worry about. It will be interesting to see if these prices are all different when winter rolls around and they decide they actually want to try to get some of them off the shelves.