TravelSeptember 12, 2014

Interested in an international golf trip? North Korea is available

When considering an international golf trip, Scotland comes to mind. So does Ireland. Maybe Mexico or Canada. Even North Korea.

OK, just kidding about that last one. That said, the North Koreans are promoting travel to their country, including golf excursions.

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"Under a new policy, North Korea has set a goal of luring 1 million tourists, although it has not set a time frame for doing so," Anna Fifield, Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post wrote from North Korea earlier this week. "The handful of tour operators here are offering an increasingly diverse array of experiences — including skiing, cycling and golf."

A Chinese tour operator, Ctrip, offers a "5-Day North Korea Leisure Golf Tour," though "golf tour" is a stretch. Only one round of golf is included in the tour, on North Korea's only golf, on the shores of T'aesong-ho Lake, where Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, shot 38-under par, including 11 aces, in the first round he ever played. The photo above (the only one available) was taken from the North Korean Amateur Golf Open website.

The trip does include a variety of tours, including one of the USS Pueblo, the U.S. Navy intelligence gather ship that the North Koreans captured ion 1968, and another of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) between North and South Korea. The cost for this tour, which starts in Bejing, is roughly $2,000.

Related: Golfing in the Heart of Darkness

A strong word of caution, however. The Department of State, in its latest travel warning issued in May, "strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK)…Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizen tourists have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention."

"[T]our operators report that the number of Americans visiting the country has dropped noticeably since two American tourists, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller, were detained in April," Fifield wrote. "Both have been charged with 'hostile acts' and Miller is set to go to trial Sunday."

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