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North Korea leader visits pet ski resort project

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a ski resort under construction in the northeast of the country to check on the progress of his pet project, state media reported Sunday, just days after he had his uncle executed.

The Masik Pass Ski Resort made headlines in August when Switzerland blocked a US$7.6 million sale of ski lifts to Pyongyang, calling it a “propaganda project” for the regime.

Featuring 110 kilometers of multi-level ski runs, a hotel, heliport and cable cars, the resort has been heavily promoted since Kim visited it in June and called for construction to be completed by the end of the year.

On his latest trip, the young leader praised soldiers and laborers for helping speed up construction under “biting cold in December,” official state news agency KCNA said, adding the project was “near completion.”

“He (Kim) said the skiing courses on the Masik Pass Ski Resort are world-class ones in terms of their number and total length,” it said.

The project was now “at the center of the world's attention,” Kim was quoted as saying, adding “everyone would marvel” at its magnificence.

He also urged operators to illuminate the resort at night to allow visitors to enjoy skiing and skating after dark, in an impoverished country suffering chronic power shortage.

The young leader has shown a fondness for expensive, high-profile leisure projects in and around the showpiece capital Pyongyang including a massive new water park, an amusement park and a luxury horseback riding club.

The Munsu Water Park in Pyongyang opened in October to much fanfare, with the 109,000-square meter venue sporting dozens of indoor and outdoor pools, water slides and saunas.

Kim in September also watched films at a new “4-D” movie theater built in the newly renovated Rungna People's amusement park, state media reported earlier.

He was photographed riding a roller coaster in the Rungna amusement park in Pyongyang when it reopened in July 2012 after renovations ordered by Kim.

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