SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea objected on Saturday to a ban on imports of equipment for a luxury ski resort mainly for the ruling elite, indicating toughened U.N. sanctions are impacting the impoverished state.
Under the leadership of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who studied in the Swiss capital Berne and is believed to have enjoyed skiing in the Alps, the reclusive North has carried out work on the "Masik Pass" ski project since last year, in rivalry with South Korea which is hosting 2018 Winter Olympics.
Last week, Switzerland halted the sale to the North of equipment for a ski resort and luxury sporting goods including golf, horseback riding and water sports under the sanctions.
North Korea reportedly asked several Swiss companies to provide chair lifts and cable cars worth 7 million Swiss francs ($7.24 million) for its grand Masik resort.
North Korea's Skiers Association said in a statement carried by KCNA news agency on Saturday that countries should not prohibit Pyongyang from buying equipment which does not produce any rocket or nuclear weapon.
"Some countries, pressurized by the U.S. high-handed practices, are blocking the DPRK from importing even equipment to be installed in mass sports facilities such as the ski resort," an association spokesman said. North Korea's official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Although the statement did not elaborate on which country blocked the import, it called such a move unjustifiable and a violation of the U.N. Charter that states sanctions should not affect people in relevant countries.
Earlier this year, North Korea threatened nuclear and missile strikes against the United States and South Korea at the height of tensions after it was hit with U.N. sanctions for its February nuclear test.
(Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Michael Perry)