According to press reports, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un recently visited a mountain area in Gangwon province to give "on the spot field guidance" on the construction of a new ski resort. This news, which was also reported in the South Korean media, caught my eye. However, none of the press reports that I saw drew the obvious inference that I took from the news. My immediate thought was that the young North Korean leader, who was educated in Switzerland and no doubt familiar with skiing and winter sports from that exposure, was motivated by the impending 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Without going into the full argument here, I will simply mention that readers may want to check my earlier post on how the problem of national division affects the forthcoming 2018 Winter Games.
For additional detail on Kim Jong-Un's visit to the Masik Pass in North Korea, read the account published by the Tokyo correspondent of The Telegraph.
Why on earth would North Korea suddenly want to build a "world-class" ski resort in the northern half of Gangwon Province? I think the most probable explanation is apparent. The North Korean leadership, fully aware of the approaching 2018 Winter Olympics, and having failed to even participate int he 1988 Seoul Olympics almost three decades ago, wants a bargaining chip.