Surfing North Korea!
There are certain words the outside world associates with North Korea, such as isolationism, despotism, secrecy, famine, personality cult and Juche (the country’s nationalistic philosophy developed by Kim Il-sung, which roughly translates as “self-reliance”). We get these words and our impressions of DPRK through a media that is always ready to fuel hysteria about a country shrouded in mystery and lead by a comical, albeit dangerous, figure. Let’s face it: The North Korean politicians and propaganda machines don’t make it half easy.
So what’s this buzz about surfing north of the demilitarized zone? North Korea’s a “surfing paradise” you say? I can imagine there aren’t many other surfers to share the waves with, but how are those waves?
Apparently the North Korean government’s tourism bureau has announced the beginning of surfing tours on the east coast of the country at three different resorts. Those resorts don’t sound that bad in this ABC News report. They’ve got beach access, steam room, restaurant and bar. What more could a surfer north of the “Bamboo Curtain” want?
The first North Korean surf tour was already held from July 26 to August 6, according to the Pyongyang Times. It included some American surfers and was quickly followed by another group. The surf packages are part of the country’s development of its tourist industry.
And those waves? Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours is quoted in the Telegraph:
Having been there (Majon beach) a few times I think claiming the waves are that high may be overstating it. I have seen some waves there, but nothing massive. It is not Point Break or anything.
I don’t think anyone was expecting Point Break, Simon, but the chance to surf where no one has surfed before is probably most of the appeal for any would-be pioneer shredders.
A piece in Magic Seaweed describes both the South Korean surfing conditions and nascent North Korean surf scene’s possibilities:
Much like the US East Coast, throughout winter low pressures spin off the mainland from the west, eventually becoming larger systems in the North Pacific. As the system moves off, the winds lighten, and the region is left with solid clean lines. North Korea also plays host to this swell, but how it assimilates the waves is left to our imaginations.
If the accompanying satellite images are anything to judge from, the surfing could be great in North Korea: white sand beaches, river breaks and sand-bottom points. But then there’s the oppressive government, a military state and reports of mass imprisonment to think about. Then again, there aren’t many surfers boycotting California or Hawaii due to all those wars the US starts or all the people they lock up behind bars, are there?
Check out the first video of surfing in the DPRK:
Lead image: Sea of Chilbo, Uri Tours