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North Korea builds giant ski resort

Leader Kim Jong-un has ordered North Korea's army to quickly finish building a high-end ski resort as arch-rival South Korea prepares to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered to country’s military to speed up construction of a world-class ski resort near the eastern town of Wonsan, so that it will be ready for the upcoming winter, according to state media.

Observers said the ambitious project was likely prompted by the intense rivalry between North Korea and South Korea, which is preparing to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in the city of Pyeongchang.

Kim toured the new construction site on Monday, giving his approval of progress made on the beginners, intermediate and advanced sky slopes, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The site, which will extend over hundreds of thousands of square metres in the Massik Pass, will also include a hotel, a helicopter pad and cableway.

The leader, who spent his formative years in the Alpine country of Switzerland, gave advice about future construction plans, such as the installation of appropriate draining systems and location of first aid stations, KCNA reported.

He warned that the construction should not pollute the natural surroundings.

Kim also said it would be necessary to take steps to produce skiing equipment and attire domestically.

A UN-imposed ban on luxury goods is supposed to make it difficult for Pyongyang's elite to import things like yachts, racing cars, luxury automobiles – and, likely, skiing equipment.

The South Korean resort of Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics, and there has been speculation that the arch-enemies could try to compete as a unified team.

The two nations marched together at the Summer Games in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.

But as relations worsened, there was no joint march in Beijing in 2008 or at the London Olympics in 2012.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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