The Dear Reader: DPRK Observations & Musings


The Slippery Slope of Chair Lift Diplomacy

First, North Korea got the rebuff from Austrian firm Doppelmayr, the world’s leading provider of chair lift and cable car technology for alpine ski sorts. Then, it was the turn of French company POMA to just say “non” to the country’s Masik Pass needs.

The DPRK figured it had finally found a solution in the form of a deal with Swiss firm Bartholet Maschinenbau. The total price tag, $8.4 million U.S., speaks to the rather modest scale of North Korea‘s first public ski resort.


However, as this week’s mountain of news coverage attests, the deal was forfeited by Swiss government officials, producing a non-plussed response from the makeshift-sounding NK organization Skiers’ Association:

“Cableway equipment for the ski resort do not produce any rockets or nuclear weapon,” the Association said. “If the governments of some countries consider that ordinary inhabitants of [North Korea] should not be allowed to use the ski resort, it is an unpardonable insult to its social system and people.”

Kim Jong-un went to high school in Bern, Switzerland, and it is now a government seated in Bern that has denied his ski resort aspirations. The affected company, based in Flums, is also on-record as as not being happy to have been flummoxed by Swiss officials.

North Korea stood not long ago at the top of what it believed was a beginner’s import-export run. Instead, the territory turned out to be of the Black Diamond diplomatic variety.


Filed under: Commentary

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