Over the weekend, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un spent some time touring what he hopes will soon be a “world-class” ski resort in Kangwon Province, North Korea. Kim — who went to school in Switzerland — is a big booster of the project, which he calls a “gigantic patriotic work.” He has specified the exact types of structures that should be built, including a heliport — for all those (illegal) helicopters in North Korea. The idea is, in part, to one-up South Korea ahead of its hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. “A skiing wave will seize the country,” Kim is reported to have said.
But, as with much of life in North Korea, just because Kim Jong Un says a thing will be great does not make it so.
Aside from landslides, heavy rain, and the incredible cost of constructing a skiing area that spans dozens of miles in an impoverished nation, North Korea will have to battle trade sanctions. On Monday, the government of Switzerland announced that it has blocked the sale of more than $7 million worth of ski lifts and cable cars to North Korea. Kim’s government had contacted several Swiss companies, who then needed Switzerland’s sign-off to proceed. That didn’t go over too well with the Swiss.
Switzerland’s state secretariat for economic affairs called the ski resort a “prestigious propaganda project for the regime” and a spokesperson said that it would not be “appropriate” to export infrastructure to North Korean sports facilities with a “luxury character.” And it’s not just ski equipment that Switzerland has now added to its list of sanctions for the Democratic People’s Republic. Swiss companies will now not be able to sell golf, horseback-riding, or billiards equipment to the country. Also, perfume.
Switzerland isn’t the first ski-centric country to knock down a sale: both France and Austria have previously rejected deals. It may be a while before we get to see photos of Kim Jong Un zipping down powdered slopes.
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Today in bad news for Donald Trump:
- Newsweek found that a company he controlled did business with Cuba under Fidel Castro "despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings." In 1998, he spent at least $68,000 there, which was funneled through a consluting company "to make it appear legal."
- The Los Angeles Times reports that at a golf club he owns in California, Trump ordered that unattractive female staff be fired and replaced with prettier women.
In some of the first state-by-state surveys since Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton has the edge in five battlegrounds, according to polls by Public Policy Polling. In four-way matchups, Clinton leads Donald Trump 46%-40% in Colorado, 45%-43% in Florida, 44%-42% in North Carolina, 45%-39% in Pennsylvania, and 46%-40% in Virginia. Gary Johnson doesn't top 7% in any state. Voters in all five states thought that Clinton decisively won the debate.