North Korea has warned that United States’s aggression towards the Hermit Kingdom would “leave no Americans alive” but despite that, the country is more than willing to take American tourist dollars.
Surfing, biking, golfing, skiing can all be enjoyed in the oppressive dictatorship known for its extensive human-rights abuses. Of course, the State Department “recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea” because of “the risk of arrest and possibly lengthy detention due to the DPRK’s inconsistent application of its criminal laws,” but for those willing to ignore that, and are able to reconcile the fact that over 100,000 North Koreans are currently imprisoned in state-run concentration camps, North Korea is an untapped tourist destination.
The newest offering? Americans have the chance to surf the “virgin waves of North Korea.” Uri Tours, a New Jersey-based tour company, is launching an eight-day surf camp led by Nik Zanella who boasts that “The DPRK has all of the ingredients for an excellent surf adventure, great surf bathymetry, good exposure and pristine beaches.”
For those willing to pay over $2,000 USD for the trip (more than the North Korean income per capita), Uri Tours and its British counterpart, Koryo Tours, offer a less-than-great safety record—American tourists have been detained in the past. Among them, Jeffery Fowle, a 56-year-old father from Ohio, who was jailed for six months after leaving behind a Bible in his hotel room during a tourist trip to the DPRK. Matthew Todd Miller, 24, and Merrill Newman, 85, were both been detained in North Korea during Uri-guided trips to the country.
Fears of longtime detention aside, Uri Tours are super “stoked to introduce them to the awesomeness of surf.”
Hang out on the beach after and enjoy a bonfire, soju, and BBQ with new North Korean friends who are facing human-rights abuses that the UN describes this way: “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
Surfing not your thing? You can go golfing at the Pyongyang Golf Course.
“It’s like having your own private course,” Uri Tours describes. And you get your own North Korean caddy that is imprisoned in a “rigidly stratified society with entrenched patterns of discrimination,” according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“It’s the one course your friends haven’t been to!” Uri Tours proclaim.
Want to experience the outdoors? You can bike around the pristine countryside, sparsely populated due to the abject poverty in the areas outside Pyongyang, or go skiing at Masik Pass, a beautiful five-star resort built as a propaganda tool for the regime.
Yeon-mi Park, a North Korean defector, has conflicting views on tourism in the regime. In a Q&A set up by The Guardian, she said, “I don’t mind that people go there, but people should go there for the people, to care about them, and not to go there and show a bad example of freedom. Bowing in front of Kim’s statue, for me, is like bowing in front of Hitler’s statue, but I’ve seen people do this a lot.”