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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs