Besides Dennis Rodman, undercover journalists, and a handful of brave tourists (including American Otto Warmbier, who died recently after a prolonged imprisonment that left him in a coma), few westerners have any idea what life in North Korea is really like. Much less how the surf is in the Hermit Kingdom.
At one time, you may have wondered to yourself what it’d be like to discover a perfect firing point break in North Korea in an age where true surf discovery is waning, only to quickly snap back to reality. After all, the threat of imprisonment and years of hard labor for a single misstep doesn’t sound particularly appetizing.
Still, North Korea’s tourism agency is doing its best to woo would-be tourists, and recently launched a website complete with a variety of tour packages. One in particular, reports AFP, invites visitors to “check out beaches on the east coast, including the Majon Bathing Beach, where ‘surfing has come into vogue among tourists’ for its favourable conditions and clean water.”
Majon Bathing Beach, as you may remember, is the place UK YouTube star Louis Cole surfs with locals in videos that many argued look a lot like North Korean propaganda, including the music video above.
The new site isn’t the first to offer tourists the opportunity to surf in North Korea. Uri Tours boasts a variety of surf, bike, and ski itineraries, which, according to their site, will allow you to “see the REAL North Korea.”
What’s more, according to AFP the North Korean tourism agency’s site doesn’t allow you to actually book a trip, only to look at suggestions. We’ll take their word for it. At time of publication the site wasn’t functioning.
In a travel advisory published by the U.S. State Department, U.S. citizens are not only strongly urged not to visit North Korea, they’re advised that their money would likely be used in support of their nuclear program.
“The DPRK funnels revenue from a variety of sources to its nuclear and weapons programs, which it prioritizes above everything else, often at the expense of the well-being of its own people,” reads the advisory. “It is entirely possible that money spent by tourists in the DPRK goes to fund these programs. We would urge all travelers, before travelling to the DPRK, to consider what they might be supporting.”
Additionally, while the State Department is often overly cautious and known to paint countries with a broad brush in their travel warnings, other parts of this one are notable.
“The Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens not to travel to North Korea/the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). U.S. citizens in the DPRK are at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement. This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens U.S. citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with “wartime law of the DPRK.” Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea, the U.S. government has no means to provide normal consular services to U.S. citizens in North Korea… At least 16 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past ten years. North Korean authorities have detained those who traveled independently and those who were part of organized tours. Being a member of a group tour or using a tour guide will not prevent North Korean authorities from detaining or arresting you. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not been successful.”
So what do you think? Still in the mood for a surf trip to the DPRK?