News / Asia

    Swiss Ban 'Inappropriate' Ski Lifts for North Korea

    Tens of thousands of North Koreans celebrate construction of the massive Masik ski resort at a rally at Kim Il Sung Square on Pyongyang, June 14, 2013.
    Tens of thousands of North Koreans celebrate construction of the massive Masik ski resort at a rally at Kim Il Sung Square on Pyongyang, June 14, 2013.
    Reuters
    Switzerland has banned the sale to North Korea of equipment for a luxury ski resort planned for the ruling elite in the widely impoverished state that is under U.N. sanctions, officials said on Monday.
     
    North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, who studied under an assumed name in the Swiss capital Berne and is believed to have gone on school ski trips in the Alps, wants to develop leisure activities for tourists and the upper crust among its 23 million citizens.
     
    North Korea approached several Swiss companies, including Bartholet Maschinenbau AG, to provide chair lifts and cable cars worth 7 million Swiss francs ($7.57 million) for its sprawling Masik resort, the Geneva daily Le Temps reported on Monday.
     
    But the Swiss government, contacted by the companies for clearance, added luxury sporting equipment to its list of goods banned under United Nations sanctions, Marie Avet of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), said.
     
    “The Federal Council decided on July 3 to also put infrastructure for sports facilities on the list, especially when they have a more luxury character for resorts,” Avet told Reuters. “These resorts have a luxury character, that is why it is not appropriate to export.”
     
    The neutral country's sanctions list for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) also includes equipment for golf, horseback riding, water sports, billiards and casinos, as well as luxury watches, jewelry, caviar, perfume and artworks.
     
    Almost one-third of North Korean children are stunted due to malnutrition, the U.N.'s World Food Program says. The U.N. secretary-general has appealed for funding for food, health care and sanitation to millions of North Koreans.
     
    Reclusive North Korea is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile weapons programs.
     
    A North Korean diplomat in Geneva said on Monday that it was aware of the Swiss decision but had no other information.
     
    Rival South Korea will hosting the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang in 2018. North Korea said on Sunday it had accepted Seoul's offer to hold working-level talks on resuming reunions of families separated by the Korean War.
     
    Water Parks and rollercoasters
     
    North Korea's envoy in Switzerland, So Se Pyong, told a rare news conference in Geneva on July 10 that economic development “to increase the people's livelihood” is a priority for Pyongyang under Kim, who is about 30-years-old.
     
    “We built many, such as water parks, and [despite being in] the difficult position, we built water parks for people and rollercoasters for children,” So told reporters.
     
    “We are now building a ski resort also for the tourist places in Wonsan area. So this is for the people,” he said.
     
    Kim, who succeeded his late father in 2011, toured the country's east coast in May in a 95-foot luxury yacht - something that could be banned under sanctions, according to a website that tracks North Korean events.
     
    Sanctions aimed at crimping the lifestyle of the elite were first imposed in 2006 but until March the resolutions had never given examples of such goods, leaving it up to individual countries to decide what constituted a luxury product.
     
    In 2009, Austrian and Italian authorities seized two luxury yachts that had been sold to North Korea.

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora