State Halts Ski Resort Information Flow

The North Korean authorities have moved to try and halt the spread of information about problems concerning the development of Masikryeong, an under-construction ski resort on North Korea’s East Sea coast.

News of problems at the ski resort construction site, where a landslide caused problems at the resort itself and triggered damage to surrounding agricultural land, has been spreading through informal networks centered on traders.

A source from Yangkang Province reported news of the authorities’ attempt to shut down the spread of information about Masikryeong, telling Daily NK on the 26th, “Of late, officials have been sent out from the Central Party to deliver public lectures. The lecturers are saying that those people who pass around ‘weird rumors of flood damage’ will be subject to serious punishment.”

According to the source, news of the landslide at Masikryeong had been spreading largely unchecked through market channels for a week before the Central Party moved to curtail it. Yet stopping it is an urgent matter. As reported by Daily NK on July 25th, the construction has been trumpeted as one of Kim Jong Eun’s main state projects, designed to feed into his public image as a young man with a drive to make North Korea more powerful through science, technology, and sport. The authorities have also been promoting a nationwide campaign based on the slogan “Masikryeong Speed.”

“In the market people are even saying they mobilized students to help with the reconstruction work,” the source said. “There have been cynical comments going around as well, like this: ‘Well, if the Marshal [Kim Jong Eun]’s first project is going to go this brilliantly then there will be nothing to worry about later on,’ and ‘Just trust in ‘Masikryeong Speed’ and all will be well.’”

The source added that in the Sino-North Korean border region the security forces have stepped up surveillance activities focusing on cross-border communication, so people are being more careful than normal.

According to the South Korean state meteorological agency, between July 10th and 14th a total of 420mm of rain fell on Masikryeong, which is located in a mountain pass above Wonsan in Gangwon Province. This caused the initial landslide.

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