The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has begun promoting itself as a destination for surfers. Its tourism website has been listing holiday packages which highlight the country beyond the capital Pyongyang, listing places where visitors can take to the waves, and declaring that “surfing has come into vogue among tourists” Telegraph reported.
The website offers information in five languages: Korean, Russians, Chinese, English and Japanese. It first appeared on July 14, although it fully went live on July 19. In describing the activities on offer, the website often emphasized how popular they are with tourists from Western countries, such as Germany, the U.K., and France, whose numbers, it said, are “yearly on increase.”
One such location is Majon Bathing Resort, which sits roughly midway up North Korea’s east coast, on the Sea of Japan. It is praised for its surfing conditions and its clean water.
In theory, the idea of surfing in North Korea is not completely implausible – at least, not in terms of raw geography. What is arguably the world’s most unstable state does at least have a good deal of coastline – not just on the Sea of Japan, but also on its west flank, which gazes onto the Yellow Sea. In total, it has more than 1,550 miles of seafront – more than South Korea, and more than recognised surf destinations like Morocco and Portugal.
But in reality, an overseas traveller would be extremely reckless to consider North Korea as a possibility for a watersports holiday.
The country exists under one of the planet’s most autocratic regimes, and has proved itself fully prepared to punish foreign visitors who it feels have broken its regulations.
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.”
After reports in May suggested that U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea may be target for state-mandated abduction, the U.S. strongly worded its travel warning. “Being a member of a group tour or using a tour guide will not prevent North Korean authorities from detaining or arresting you,” Newsweek reported.
So what do you think? Still in the mood for a surf trip to the DPRK?