North Korea won't deny its people luxury skiing
You can't rule out any feat planned by a man who single-handedly brought faded NBA star Dennis Rodman back into the international limelight.
But North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un's announcement last week that "a skiing wave will seize the country" when work is complete on the "world class" ski resort he recently ordered his army to build seems a bit far-fetched -- unless food and medicine are placed at the bottom of each run.
A luxury ski resort at Masik Pass in North Korea's central mountains is just what the residents of one of the world's poorest, hungriest nations need to take their minds off their troubles. Well, that and the new theme park scheduled to open later this year near the capital city of Pyongyang.
If nothing else, it's a step up from launching another missile into the Sea of Japan to remind the rest of the world of North Korea's presence.
The North Korean leader, who studied in Switzerland during his youth, visited the ski area's construction site last week to offer "on the spot field guidance" to the military personnel assigned the task of constructing the facility by winter, according to the state news agency. Plans call for a luxury hotel, a heliport, a tramway, 68 miles of trails and 27 terrain parks to be built at the site.
To make the black diamond runs a bit more challenging, Kim could have his generals route them through minefields.
My guess is that freestyle skiing will be illegal, and ski jumping will turn out to be the most popular activity at the resort for locals, particularly if the ramp is oriented in a way that makes an airborne crossing of the Demilitarized Zone possible. At any rate, North Koreans are used to things going downhill fast, and then winging it, so the thing might just work.
There is speculation that jealousy may be the motivating force in building the resort, since archrival South Korea has been selected to host the 2018 Winter Games, while North Korea hosts its own ongoing, real-life version of the Hunger Games. Good thing the south-of-the-border neighbors didn't bid for a spot on the NASCAR circuit.
So far, no name has been announced for the new ski development, so I'll suggest a few:
In other insignificant international news last week, Burger King celebrated the 50th anniversary of the fast-food chain's existence in Puerto Rico by issuing hands-free Whopper holders to burger fans in the Caribbean U.S. territory.
The gadgets are reminiscent of the hands-free harmonica holders Bob Dylan employed during his early folk period. While they were released as a promotional gimmick, the consequences could be chilling, should they catch on.
Multi-tasking commuters using hands-free cellphones while chomping on clamp-secured burgers could prove hazardous to public health.