Sports and Tourism
Includes eyewitness accounts from foreigners on the ground in DPRK
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Asian Cup Australia 2015
Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Korea DPR, China PR
10 Jan 2015
Sydney’s Olympic Park played host Saturday night to an unusual match as Australia’s deaf football team played its North Korean counterpart.
Source: SBS World News
14 Dec 2014 - 8:14 PM UPDATED YESTERDAY 8:28 PM
It is the first time the Democratic Republic of North Korea’s deaf football team has left their country – the most insular nation on earth – for an overseas match.
The event reportedly required months of planning and diplomacy.
Church group World Milal Australia organised the event with the help of Deaf Football Australia, with parishioners hosting the players in their own Sydney homes.
The closest official in Australia to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un attended the game but did not front the media. A gracious speech however from the President of the DPRK Deaf Football Team illustrated sport’s capacity to unite people.
"On behalf of the North Korean government, we thank Deaf Football Australia in this beautiful city of Sydney, for the warm hospitality of your citizens," said Jung Hyun. "And we also thank Korean people here."
Young Jun Sao, World Milal Australia President, believes in the diplomatic potential. “We hope this is part of the unification in the future," he says.
DPRK launches website to attract overseas travelers
By Wu Jin
China.org.cn, December 2, 2014
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea launched a new tourism website (www.dprktoday.com) yesterday. Stories and video clips of the country's attractions, hotels and traveling itineraries are posted on the site.
The site also provides up-to-date information on flights and travel agencies in the DPRK that allow overseas tourists to plan their ideal trip.
The website is designed to meet the external world's growing interest in and expectations about the DPRK, local media reported.
According to local industry insiders, the country has built several tourist amenities since last year, including a ski resort, a water park, an equestrian club, a liberation memorial hall and a summer camping site.
In June 2013, the country also decided to attract investments in the construction of modern hotels and facilities at a planned international tourism zone highlighting the country's natural attractions, including Wonsan and Kum Gang San.
North Korea launches tourist website – although border remains closed
A month after foreign visitors are barred because of Ebola fears, dprktoday.com tries to lure tourists with pictures of smiling children and short-range missiles
Tuesday 2 December 2014 13.34 GMT
North Korea’s border is still closed because of Ebola, but that hasn’t stopped the country launching a website to promote itself as a destination for foreign tourists.
The site, dprktoday.com, offers an animated tour through the customs and culture available in the so-called hermit kingdom. A short film on the homepage welcomes prospective visitors, provides a handy locator of North Korea on the globe, flashes past the Juche tower and runs through the country’s main selling points, from its sporting prowess to the Masikryong ski resort.
Traditional food to tempt visitors. Photograph: screengrab/www.dprktoday.com
The site also provides flight schedules from China, Russia and other foreign cities, lists tourist packages and gives details of luxury hotels.
Many of the images have been given a Disney-like treatment: purple stars added to pictures of children sleeping in a nursery, yellow sunflowers frame a group of waving toddlers. They also feature traditional food, rural landscapes and Pyongyang architecture.
South Korea’s largest news agency Yonhap reports that the North created the website to “satisfy growing interest and expectation” in the country. The website, which suffers intermittent problems with loading and refreshing, is mostly in Korean, with a few English headlines. It is unclear whether there are plans to translate any of the content.
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'Seoul ready to discuss Mount Geumgang tour'
By Lee Min-hyung
Updated : 2014-11-19 19:16
South Korea made a conciliatory gesture toward the North, with Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae expressing willingness Tuesday to resume the suspended tours to Mount. Geumgang.
"Seoul is willing to solve pending issues with Pyongyang should high-level talks resume," Ryoo said during an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Peace Foundation, a Seoul-based organization seeking a path for Korean unification.
His comments came on the same day that Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun visited Mount Geumgang on the North's east coast. She made the one-day trip to commemorate the 16th anniversary of launching the tour program.
"The mountain tour is an issue closely related with inter-Korean relations. Comprehensive measures should be taken to dispel worries over the tour, including protecting tourists' safety," ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said during a regular briefing Wednesday.
Uproar at Jeju Plans to Let Chinese Tourists Drive
Jeju Island plans to lift restrictions on Chinese tourists driving rental cars on the scenic resort in an effort to boost visitor numbers, but critics say that would be irresponsible and endanger traffic safety.
The Jeju provincial government said Tuesday that a special bill that will allow short-term Chinese visitors to drive on the resort island was given the green light in a Cabinet meeting.
Not everyone can simply drive a car here. Korea has agreements with the U.S., Japan and other countries allowing their citizens to drive rental cars, but no such pact has been signed with China, where road safety is not of the highest standard, so Chinese tourists on a 90-day visa are not allowed to drive here.
Hyundai Group Chairwoman in Fresh N.Korea Trip
Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun visits North Korea on Tuesday for the 16th anniversary of package tours to Mt. Kumgang. It is already her second visit to the North this year after she marked the 11th anniversary in August of her husband Chung Mong-hun's death.
Chung is honored as a friend of the North Korean regime thanks to a number of lucrative cross-border projects he launched before throwing himself out of a window here when a corruption investigation closed in on him.
The delegation from the firm, not to be confused with the carmaker spun off by the dysfunctional owner family, includes 21 other executives including Cho Kun-sik, the head of rump travel subsidiary Hyundai Asan. Their day trip to Mt. Kumgang has the approval of the Unification Ministry here, the group said.
Hyun will pay her respects at a memorial in her husband's memory on Mt. Kumgang and then inspect idle company property like hotels and port facilities.
Package tours to the scenic resort were halted after a North Korean soldier shot dead a South Korean tourist in 2008, stripping both Asan and the North Korean regime of a significant source of income.
North Korea creates history with weightlifting success
A team of 12 will receive a hero’s welcome in Pyongyang after topping the medals table for the first time in any sport
theguardian.com, Saturday 15 November 2014 16.23 GMT
A team of six male and six female weightlifters will return to North Korea this week expecting a hero’s welcome after securing the greatest sporting triumph in the country’s history.
North Korea has never headed a medals table in any sport, at any major championships. But its strongmen and women are set to do just that at the International Weightlifting Federation championships being held in Kazakhstan.
The team won their 11th and 12th gold medals on Saturday and – barring a series of freak results in the final two events on Sunday – they will not be overtaken.
Selling North Korea as a tourist destination
3 November 2014 Last updated at 22:22 GMT
North Korea may not be high on the list of destinations that most tourists would like to visit, but a tour operator which organises holidays there says business is booming.
Operating from China, Experience North Korea sells tours of the North Korean mountains and can even offer the chance to run in the Pyongyang Marathon.
And the company has now come to London to try and woo adventurous travellers, as Jeremy Howell reports.
Inter-Korean Rivalry Takes the Field
By Andray Abrahamian
06 October 2014
North Korea competes in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo: Reuters)Sports are always political. International sports competitions especially can serve many purposes, such as an outlet for nationalist sentiment—in a my-country-is-better-than-yours sort of way—or as a distraction, a galvanizing force or even as a major event that can signal its coming of age. (The 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the 2008 Beijing Olympics were all events that signaled the new or renewed global importance of the host city.) Finally, there is the rare occasion when sports can play an important diplomatic role, giving governments an opportunity to build new political bridges.
Granted, while enough happened at the Asian Games to satisfy nationalist pride for both Koreas, the games fell short as a prestige event and will not be considered a great victory by the Republic of Korea over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Whether the visit of three top North Korean officials and their meetings with senior representatives of the South Korean government represent an important turning point in inter-Korean relations also remains to be seen.
Young N.Korean Footballers to Visit S.Korea in Early November
Young North Korean footballers will come to South Korea to participate in an international football tournament early next month, the unification ministry said on Thursday.
The tournament for U-15 footballers from the two Koreas, China and Uzbekistan is to be held in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province from Nov. 7 to 9.
Some 30 members of the North Korean delegation will arrive at Incheon International Airport on Sunday via Beijing.
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Kim Jong Un meets with Asiad gold medalists
Xinhua, October 20, 2014
This photo provided by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Oct. 19, 2014 shows top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un meeting with gold medalists of the 17th Asian Games and recent world champions and their coaches in Pyongyang. [Photo/Xinhua]
DPRK opens Tongnim-jun to Chinese tourists
Xinhua, October 17, 2014
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) opened its city of Tongnim-jun to Chinese tourists on Thursday, in the latest sign of the reclusive country developing its tourism sector.
The first group of 35 Chinese cyclists enter the Democratic People's Republic of Korea via Tumen port in Jilin on May 2, after Tumen opened a one-day tour taking visitors to the DPRK. During the six-hour tour, the cyclists visited the Nanyo railway station and a statue of Kim Il-sung. [Photo/Xinhua]
Tongnim-jun is in Sinuiju, an area which borders Northeast China's Liaoning province.
Under an agreement signed by tourist agencies of the two countries, Chinese group tourists can visit Tongnim-jun for two days from Dandong city in Liaoning.
The Dandong branch of the China International Travel Service has built a four-star hotel in the area with an investment of 30 million yuan ($4.88 million).
Chinese group tourists can visit a number of DPRK cities, including its capital Pyongyang, Rason, Namyang, Chongjin and Mount Kumgang, by bus or by train.
The two countries are considering opening self-drive tours for Chinese tourists from Dandong, according to You Zejun, head of the municipal tourism commission.
The DPRK is working to develop its burgeoning tourism sector. It has approved several new travel programs and simplified entry applications to woo Chinese tourists.
In April, a train service from Ji'an city of Jilin province was launched to link with Pyongyang, Kaesong and Panmunjom in the DPRK, making it the second city after Dandong with such services.
Asia's contenders confirmed
(FIFA.com) Friday 17 October 2014
Asia's quartet of competitors at the FIFA U-20 World Cup have been decided with Myanmar, Korea DPR, Qatar and Uzbekistan all having their tickets to New Zealand 2015 stamped.
The four sides have made it to the biennial tournament after reaching the semi-finals of the AFC U-19 Championship, with host Myanmar making it to the global finals for the first time. A 1-0 win over United Arab Emirates saw them secure the spot, with Than Paing's goal shortly after half-time ultimately proving crucial, booking them a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1970.
It was ultimately a tighter affair for Korea DPR, who had to endure the drama of a penalty shoot-out with Japan, seeing off their opponents 5-4 to seal a return to the tournament after missing out on Turkey 2013. It was the unfortunate Young Samuari Blue captain Takumi Minamino who saw his penalty saved by Cha Jong-Hun to decide the game.
2 Koreas to Face Off in Men's Football Final
The men's football final in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon will be a showdown between the two Koreas. South Korea beat Thailand 2-0 in the semifinal on Tuesday thanks to goals by Lee Jong-ho and Jang Hyun-soo.
South Korea has not surrendered a single goal in six matches.
Reaching the final for the first time in 28 years, the South will now battle North Korea for the gold medal at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Lee Jong-ho (in white uniform) looks at the ball as he scores the game opener in a semifinal match between Korea and Thailand in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon on Tuesday. Lee Jong-ho (in white uniform) looks at the ball as he scores the game opener in a semifinal match between Korea and Thailand in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon on Tuesday.
North Korea beat Iraq 1-0 in the other semifinal on the same day.
South and North Korea have faced off in three consecutive Asian Games. They are evenly matched in Asian Games with one win, one draw, and one loss.
In the quarterfinal of the 2006 Asiad in Doha, South Korea beat the North 3-0. North Korea took revenge four years later when it won 1-0 in Guangzhou. This is the first time since 1978 in Bangkok that the two Koreas meet in the final.
The last time the two sides drew 0-0 to share gold.
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'Kimchi helped me win the gold'
Updated : 2014-09-28 19:54
By Baek Byung-yeul
INCHEON ? A North Korean female weightlifter said Sunday that kimchi was the secret behind her world record ? a less-sycophantic answer than that from her colleagues who credited their success to dictator Kim Jung-un.
"We eat no special food, just kimchi," said Kim Un-ju, 24, who broke the world record with a 164 kg clean and jerk in the 75 kg division last Thursday.
She also thanked coach Choe Nong-gyun, who attended the conference along with Jang Su-myong, from the North Korean Olympic Committee.
"Coach Choe is a good man. He's like a father, but he pushed me to the utmost limit," she said. "I had to survive hard training ? I feared I might get injured while training so hard."
North Korean weightlifters have been leading their country's impressive performance at the Asiad, with the reclusive country fifth in the medal standing. North Korean weightlifters have won four golds out of 15 available ? the second largest number followed by China with seven.
The Controversy Over North Korean Flag at the Asian Games in South Korea
North Korea has sent its national team to Incheon, South Korea to participate in the 17th Asian Games.
South Korea is the host to this year’s event, but due to its domestic security laws regarding North Korea, controversies arose already. First, South Korean government has forbidden raising of the flags of participating nations of the games in order to singularly forbid North Korean flag from being seen outside the games’ official site – which is unprecedented measure and may go against the policies of the games. North Korean players may hoist their flag in the players’ housing area, but if South Koreans displayed the North Korean flag outside the site, they will be prosecuted under the draconian National Security Law. Second, North Korean journalists who accompanied the team were unable to send reports home because South Korean authorities block North Korean Internet sites.
With these residues of inter-Korea confrontation aside, Koreans will likely cheer both teams, and hopefully conciliatory mood will prevail and help towards warming of inter-Korea relations.
In another incident, FIFA authorities banned the displaying of "One Korea" flag by the spectators at the U20 Women's World Cup games, despite the fact that the flag that contains the image of the Korean Peninsula, symbolizing the yearning for Korean reunification, has been displayed widely at international sports events involving both Korean teams, including the Olympics, and at official inter-Korea meetings and functions. FIFA even sanctioned the North Korean soccer federation regarding the display of the flag, even though Korean Canadian and Korean American fans displayed the flag at the games independently.
[Asian Games] [NSL]
S.Korea Holds Top in Asiad Medals Ranking
South Korea has remained at the top of the medals table for two days running in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. As of 9:20 p.m. on Sunday, Korea was in the lead with 12 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals.
China is a close second with 12 gold, nine silver and 11 bronze.
The first gold medal of the day for South Korea came in shooting. Jin Jong-oh, one of the most successful pistol shooters in the world for a decade with three Olympic gold medals, faltered under pressure, but Kim Cheong-yong (17) magnificently rose to the occasion.
Kim, Jin, and Lee Dae-myung also won the team competition in the men's 10-m air pistol on Sunday.
South Korea also dominated fencing. Jung Jin-sun won men's epee event and Lee Ra-jin the women's sabre on Saturday. Jeon Hee-sook won women's foil and Gu Bon-gil men's sabre on Sunday.
South Korea won medals in all five weightlifting events on Sunday, and three of them were gold. Kim Jae-bum in men's under-81 kg category, Jung Da-woon in the women's under-63 kg, and Kim Seong-yeon in women's under-70 kg struck gold.
North Korea won two gold medals in weightlifting on Saturday -- Om Yun-chol won gold in the men's 56 kg and Kim Un-guk in the men's 62 kg, both with new world records.
North Korea is currently in sixth place in the medals ranking with two gold and three bronze medals.
NK athletes card surprise performances
Updated : 2014-09-22 22:52
North Korea's weightlifter Ri Jong-hwa celebrates winning her country's third gold in the women's 58 kg division on the top spot of the podium during an award ceremony at the Moonlight Festival Garden Weightlifting Venue, Monday.
By Yoon Sung-won
INCHEON — North Korean athletes, who drew a lot of attention even before the Incheon Asian Games largely due to the politically sensitive situation between the two Koreas, have proven they deserve the spotlight for their performances as well.
They have surprised sports fans here with impressive outings in a number of events.
Three North Korean weightlifters earned gold medals on three consecutive days with two of them setting world records.
Female weightlifter Ri Jong-hwa garnered her country's third gold at the Moonlight Festival Garden Weightlifting Venue, Monday.
The 23-year-old in the women's 58 kg division hoisted 102 ? in the snatch and 134 ? in the clean and jerk for a total of 236 ? to claim the top spot on the podium.
"I'd like to deliver this news to our leader Kim Jong-un," she said after the award ceremony.
North Korean weightlifter Kim Un-guk shouts with joy after breaking his own world record in the men's snatch 62 kg class weightlifting event to win his country's second gold medal at the Moonlight Festival Garden Weightlifting Venue, Saturday.
A day earlier, North Korea's Kim Un-guk won the gold in the men's 62 kg event at the same venue. On his way to the victory, Kim broke two world records. He lifted a total of 332 kg to break his own previous world record by 5 kg.
Kim had set the previous world record in total weight in winning the 2012 Olympic gold in London.
"Breaking the world record is something all athletes wish for," Kim said. "I tried to set a better score than the one from the London Olympics, and I made it."
On Saturday, another North Korean Om Yun-chol, won the country's first gold medal in the men's 58 kg weightlifting final held at the same venue.
In his victory, Om, the smallest athlete in the event, also set a world record in the clean-and-jerk, exciting spectators.
Even after he secured the gold medal, Om broke his own world record again by 1 kg by lifting 170 kg in his final clean-and-jerk attempt.
"With our leader Kim Jong-un's teachings in mind, I pledged to do my best," Om said after the event. "I wanted to break the record, and I worked hard to bring success to Kim Jong-un."
Experts attributed the country's good results in the early stages of the Asiad to geographic advantages, such as proximity, as well as the North Korean regime's drive to foster sports.
"The country has accelerated systematically nurturing sports since the inauguration of incumbent leader Kim Jong-un. For the North, it is expected to do its upmost to be more competitive since the Incheon Asiad is being hosted in the other part of Korean Peninsula," said Nam Sung-wook, a professor in the Department of North Korea Studies at Korea University. "The country is expected to garner better results than before thanks to such efforts."
The North Korean women's football team celebrates after scoring its second goal against Vietnam in a match at the Incheon Asian Games at the Namdong Asiad Rugby Field in Incheon on Sept. 16. North Korea won the match 5-0. / Yonhap
North Korea's women football squad has been also delivered at the Asiad.
'Sold out” stadiums often nearly-empty
By Kwon Ji-youn
The South-North Korea Joint Cheering Team has been perplexed and upset due to the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee's (IAGOC) mishandling of ticket sales.
The group, made up of South Koreans supporting their North Korean neighbors at the Asiad, had been told that most of the events had been sold out before the opening ceremony. But later, the stadiums and arenas were pretty much empty.
"They sent us an official letter that stated that most games taking place in Incheon are sold out," the group's spokesman told The Korea Times, Monday. "So we visited the committee's office several times to ask in person whether there had been any cancellations."
The group had asked before the Chuseok holiday, which began on Sept. 7, about tickets for North Korean football games. After several inquiries, they bought 300 tickets for the North Korean football game on Sept. 15, and 900 tickets for Saturday's game.
"So we had no choice but to send 300 and 900 people, respectively, to each game, only to see that the stadium was pretty much empty," he said.
[Asian Games] [SK NK policy]
NK officials, athletes in seclusion
By Yoon Sung-won
INCHEON — North Korean athletes and officials are having little contact with representatives of other countries or the media at the Asian Games.
"Many athletes from foreign countries are visiting the Athletes' Village's amenities, such as the billiard saloon, cafeteria and Internet cafe, to spend their free time and relax. But we have not seen North Korean athletes yet," an official at the village said Wednesday.
Most of the North Korean athletes have only been staying in their rooms except for "special" occasions such as meals.
Asian Games Leave Public Cold
Ticket sales for the Incheon Asian Games have been lackluster. The organizing committee on Sunday said only 18 percent of tickets including for the opening and closing ceremonies had been sold until Sunday.
Some events featuring stars like swimmer Park Tae-hwan and rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae are sold out, but overall interest is negligible, with just five percent of tickets for track and field events and six percent for football games sold.
Track and field events are traditionally unpopular here, and people are not interested in football matches unless they feature the Korean team, the committee said.
N.Korea Plays China in Football Opener for Asian Games
North Korea will begin its 2014 Asian Games in Incheon with men's football. It has a preliminary match against China in Group F at 5 p.m. on Monday.
North Korea is ranked 146th in FIFA rankings, much lower than China's 97th.
North Korean footballers leave the athletes village for practice in Incheon on Sunday. North Korean footballers leave the athletes' village for practice in Incheon on Sunday.
The North Korean women's football team will have their first preliminary match against Vietnam in Group C at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The team is ranked 11th in the world while Vietnam is ranked 33rd.
NK reporters must use fax at Asian Games
By Kim Jae-heun
A North Korean reporter points to a laptop computer in the Asian Games press center in Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, Friday, after it was blocked from accessing a North Korean website. Due to South Korea's National Security Law, the reporters have to send their reports to Pyongyang via fax machine. / Yonhap
North Korean reporters covering the Incheon Asian Games will rely on a rather antiquated piece of technology — the fax machine — to send their stories to Pyongyang.
The National Security Law (NSL) bans access to North Korean websites; and for the reporters, this makes it impossible to file their stories via the Internet.
A Ministry of Unification official confirmed Monday that the North reporters would not get special access to North Korean websites such as that of the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), and that both countries were aware of the situation.
"It's common knowledge that North Korean websites are not accessible in the South. We've notified the North about the situation and they are aware of it," an official told The Korea Times on condition of anonymity.
"We agreed on the fax machine as the system for the North Korean reporters to deliver their articles. As far as I know, the North delegation hasn't officially requested a change."
[Asian Games] [NSL]
North factor unlikely to offer much help
By Yoon Sung-won
The North Korean delegation is drawing a lot of attention from the media ahead of the start of the Incheon Asian Games, but it is not likely to help boost ticket sales.
The organizing committee said Monday that only 18 percent of tickets for the Games, including those for the opening and closing ceremonies, had been sold by Sunday.
"The low ticket sales are largely due to the low popularity of track and field and some soccer games, except for ones involving the Korean national team," said an official of the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (IAGOC).
In previous international sports competitions, the participation of the North Korea has been a favorable factor.
However, this may have little or no impact on the Asian Games because of the poor relations between the North and South.
[Asia Games] [SK NK policy] [Blowback]
N.Korean Athletes Arrives at Incheon
North Korean athletes arrive for the Asian Games at Incheon International Airport on Thursday. North Korean athletes arrive for the Asian Games at Incheon International Airport on Thursday.
The first batch of the North Korean participants in the Asian Games arrived at Incheon International Airport on Thursday evening.
The group led by Jang Su-myong, a representative of the North Korean Olympic Committee, consists of 94 officials, medical staff, reporters and athletes. Arriving on Air Koryo, they wore a uniform of white jackets and blue pants or skirts.
They wore badges of the North Korean flag and the faces of former leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il on their chests. Some looked surprised at the gathering of reporters at the airport.
They were welcomed at the airport by some two dozen members of a joint cheering squad belonging to civic groups in Incheon who played vuvuzelas, the horns used during the football World Cup in South Africa and waved flags representing a united Korea.
Most of the athletes looked cheerful and waved to the crowd. One took pictures of journalists and the welcoming crowd with a DSLR camera.
S.Koreans Banned from Waving N.Korean Flag at Asian Games
A North Korean flag (second from left), along with other nations flags, hangs at the main stadium of the Asian Games in Incheon on Thursday. /Newsis A North Korean flag (second from left), along with other nations' flags, hangs at the main stadium of the Asian Games in Incheon on Thursday. /Newsis
South Koreans will be strictly prohibited from waving North Korean flags during the Asian Games in Incheon that start next week. The ban is based in the decades-old National Security Law, which makes it illegal to recognize North Korea as a political entity.
Posting North Korean flags on the Internet is also forbidden.
The South Korean government faced the same dilemma during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan.
North Korean athletes began arriving in the port city of Incheon on Monday to take part in the Asian Games starting on Sept. 19.
The ban was decided by officials from the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office, National Intelligence Service and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in a meeting Monday. But the flag will be displayed at relevant sporting events, award ceremonies and in the athletes' village.
North Korean athletes can have their own flags and display them in sports stadiums.
North Korea decided to send no cheerleaders to the Asian Games after South Korea refused to foot the bill for their accommodation.
But South Koreans who are caught with a North Korean flag both inside and outside stadiums will face criminal charges.
[Asian Games] [Repression]
N.Korea Aims for Top 10 in Asian Games Medal Count
North Korea aims for a place among the top 10 nations in terms of medal wins in the Asian Games that start next week.
The last time the North was in the top 10 was at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan.
North Korea ranked fourth in the Asian Games in New Delhi in 1982 and in 1990 in Beijing, behind South Korea, China and Japan. But it ranked eighth in Bangkok in 1998, ninth in Busan, 16th in Doha and 12th in 2010.
The North's best chances of a gold medal are in weightlifting. To give its weightlifters some taste of an international competition, North Korea hosted the Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship in September last year.
South Korean weightlifting officials believe the North can win up to six gold medals.
The North Korean women's football team is also among the best in the world. They have always won medals in the Asian Games, including a bronze in 1990, silver in 1998 and golds in 2002 and 2006. They had to settle for silver in Guangzhou in 2010.
North Korea's first event in the Asian Games takes place on Sunday, when the men's football squad faces off with China.
Spaces of Leisure: A North Korean (Pre-) History
By Robert Winstanley-Chesters | September 13, 2014
The Munsu Water Park in Pyongyang, a contemporary space of North Korean leisure with origins predating the DPRK. Image: KCNA/Reuters
Sino-NK imagines itself to be a forum for analysis of all sorts of Korean, Chinese and other East Asian spaces. These spaces range from the ghostly echoes of colonial narrative formation in Manchuria and Chosun, to the acutely militarised spaces of North Korea’s borders with its estranged southern neighbour and, above all, to the liminal, diffuse terrains of the Chinese-North Korean border and the Tumen Triangle beyond. The desire of our research group to interpenetrate the frontier has been one defining feature of this project.
North Korea tries to lure tourists to earn foreign currency, but two now on trial
By Anna Fifield September 10 at 7:44 PM
MOUNT MYOHYANG, North Korea — When it comes to untrampled corners of the world, few options are left for getting off the beaten track. Cuba? Not what it once was. Burma? Basically open. Syria? Well, that’s out for now.
But for travelers with an Indiana Jones streak, the one place often considered impossible is becoming increasingly possible: North Korea.
A growing number of Western tourists — called “Europeans” in North Korea, even though they more and more often include Americans — are coming here to see whether this last remnant of the Cold War really is as bad as it’s made out to be.
“I wanted a new experience and wanted to see this place with my own eyes and to form my own views,” said Victor Malychev, a Russian-born telecommunications expert who has lived in Washington for 13 years.
“And I guess I wanted to have a kind of check mark next to it, too,” he conceded while on a tour organized by Young Pioneers, one of the newer travel companies operating in North Korea.
N.Korean Flag Flaps Asian Games Organizers
Organizers of the upcoming Asian Games in Incheon pulled down all national flags that lined the streets of the port city after rightwing groups complained about the public display of the North Korean flag.
The flags of the 45 participating nations were hoisted along the streets of Incheon and the city of Goyang north of Seoul last week.
North Korean flags hang on the roadside in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province on Saturday, ahead of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, in this picture posted on Twitter. North Korean flags hang on the roadside in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province on Saturday, ahead of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, in this picture posted on Twitter.
Under Olympic Council of Asia regulations, the flags of the council, host nation and participating countries are displayed around sports stadiums, accommodation and airports.
The North Korean flag was also hoisted during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and Daegu Universiade in 2003.
But this time rightwing groups in Goyang protested, and the organizers took the drastic step of removing all national flags and replacing them with the OCA flag and Asian Games banner.
One official at the organizing committee said, "To avoid unnecessary controversy, we decided not to hoist any national flags outside the sports venues."
North Korean athletes are scheduled to arrive in Incheon from Monday.
First batch of N. Korean Asiad delegation arrives
Members of the first batch of the North Korean delegation to the Asian Games arrive at Incheon International Airport, Thursday. The 94-member group including officials, medical staff, reporters and athletes were taken straight to the Athletes' Village in Guwol-dong, central Incheon. / Yonhap
By Kwon Ji-youn, Nam Hyun-woo
INCHEON ? The first batch of the North Korean delegation for the Asian Games arrived at Incheon International Airport, Thursday.
The 94-member group included Jang Su-myong, a senior official of the North's Olympic Committee, referees, medical staff, reporters and athletes who will compete in football and rowing.
An Air Koryo plane landed at the airport at 6:47 p.m. and the members appeared at the terminal after an hour.
Clad in white jackets and blue trousers and skirts, they waved to reporters and civic organization members waiting for them. But they did not answer reporters' questions.
They were wearing badges of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.
Some 40 civic organization members holding flags printed with the outline of the Korean Peninsula cheered the athletes, shouting "We are one."
North Korea: Northeast Asia’s New Tourism Hub?
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By Ramon Pacheco Pardo
04 September 2014
Arm wrestling with North Koreans during the wrestling exhibition in Pyongyang. (Photo: Telegraph UK screengrab)At first glance, last week’s wrestling exhibition in Pyongyang seems to have been a one-off event similar to others with which North Korea has used in the past to try to shift attention away from its nuclear program. As such, it could be dismissed as little more than a dose of regime propaganda. However, this interpretation seems inaccurate. Instead, Kim Jong Un appears intent on actually developing the tourism sector to attract much needed capital inflows. Seen in this light, a group of international wrestlers fighting inside a North Korean ring and holding arm-wrestling competitions with local children can be interpreted as in line with recent efforts to attract more visitors.
A few interrelated aspects help explain Pyongyang’s increasing focus on the tourism sector, including: 1) East Asia’s exponential growth as a recipient and sender of tourists; 2) the expertise and knowledge-sharing underpinning UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) activities, in which North Korea has recently become more interested; and 3) tourism’s potential to bring revenues without significantly affecting short-term regime stability.
Pro wrestlers make unlikely peace trip to North Korea
American pro-wrestlers Bob "The Beast" Sapp, left, and Jon Andersen, right, leave the arena after a pro wrestling exhibition, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Wong Maye-E/AP)
By Anna Fifield August 30 ?
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Koreans are not exactly used to seeing 300-pound Americans in tiny black underpants with “strong man” emblazoned across the rear.
So they audibly gasped when Jon Andersen, the professional wrestler from San Francisco with muscles that look set to burst out of his skin, appeared on a floodlit stage in a Pyongyang stadium Saturday night, with music declaring, “He’s a macho man,” blaring from the sound system.
Women clasped their hands over their mouths when, seconds later, an even bigger American wrestler, Bob Sapp, emerged in a white sequin-and-feather cape to the theme song from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Once in the ring, Andersen exhorted Sapp to “kill ’em!” as the pair took on two Japanese wrestlers, picking them up and throwing them on the ground.
Unlikely as it may seem, these two fearsome Americans, together with their compatriot Erik Hammer, are part of the latest effort to bring about more harmonious relations between North Korea and the outside world.
North Korean women, dressed in traditional Chogori watch a pro wrestling exhibition, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Koreans got their first look at pro wrestling in about 20-years when former NFL lineman Bob "The Beast" Sapp, and 20 other fighters from around the world took to the ring for an exhibition in Pyongyang. (Wong Maye-E/AP)
Indeed, many of the 13,000-plus carefully selected North Koreans in the audience laughed out loud when, in a move that did not look entirely spontaneous, one of the Japanese wrestlers ducked and Andersen kicked Sapp square in the chest instead. Another American miscalculation, their laughter seemed to say.
For now, the propaganda was working in one direction at least.
After 24 hours in Pyongyang — staying in the country’s fanciest hotel and eating meals specially prepared for foreign guests — Andersen said he had seen nothing of the missile-testing, hunger-inducing, repressive place shown on television.
“When I get back to the United States, I’m going to straighten out all my family and friends,” the gigantic wrestler said, declaring that he’d seen the real North Korea. “It’s just classic American ignorance about the rest of the world.”
[Sports diplomacy] [Media]
NK hopes sport event to pave way for diplomacy
Updated : 2014-08-31 19:19
International professional wrestlers, including Bob Sapp, right, lift opponents on their shoulders during the international pro-wrestling tournament held at the Ryugyoung Chung Ju-Young Gymnasium in Pyongyang on Sunday. / Yonhap
By Kang Hyun-kyung
North Korea is seeking to increase cooperation with other nations and is using the international pro-wrestling tournament to send such a signal to the outside world.
Speaking to the opening ceremony of the wrestling contest at the Ryugyoung Chung Ju-Young Gymnasium in Pyongyang Saturday, Chang Ung, chairman of the International Martial Arts Committee of the North, said his country was willing to work together with other nations to bolster harmony among other nations.
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N.Korea Backtracks Over Asian Games Cheerleaders
North Korea on Thursday said it will not after all send a cheerleading squad to support its athletes for the upcoming Asian Games in Incheon.
The announcement was made on state TV by Son Kwang-ho, the vice chairman of North Korea's National Olympic Committee.
"The South called the cheerleading squad political subversives aimed at stirring trouble and took issue with its size and even touched on the cost, which caused talks to break down," Son said.
Son claimed the North told the South of its decision in working-level talks in Incheon last week.
Pyongyang earlier wanted to send 350 cheerleaders to the Asian Games but asked South Korea to foot the bill for the group while in South Korea.
The North has already announced that it will send a 273-member delegation of athletes and sports officials to the Asian Games.
[Asian Games] [Inversion]
The Incheon Asiad: Playing Games, Or a Game-Changer?
By Aidan Foster-Carter
26 August 2014
Antonio Gramsci or Yogi Berra? It’s not often you see those two in the same sentence. Yet I find these two figures—or rather, things each of them said—helpful in sketching a dilemma which faces all of us in the North Korea business. In a phrase: Dare we hope for better things?
Yes, said the Italian Marxist…with qualifications. His famous maxim proclaimed: “Pessimism of the intelligence, optimism of the will.” In tough times, when objectively the outlook looks bleak, there is still always hope. Though it didn’t exactly work out that way for poor Antonio himself, who sickened and died at age 46 as a prisoner of Mussolini.
Also of Italian descent, and happily still with us, is Yogi Berra. The great baseball player-coach’s famous Yogiisms include: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” In the context of inter-Korean relations, this is an apt retort to a once often-heard Korean proverb, glibly optimistic but nearly always false. Sijaki banida: The first step is half the journey. The hell it is. In reality, don’t we just keep starting over and then sliding back? It’s just snakes and ladders: no lasting progress.
N.Korean Taekwondo Athletes May Compete in Olympics
North Korean taekwondo players may be able to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The World Taekwondo Federation said on its website on Monday that the federation's chief Choue Chung-won of South Korea signed a memorandum of intent with the International Taekwondo Federation president Chang Ung of North Korea last Thursday in Nanjing, China during the Youth Olympic Games.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, witnessed the signing of the agreement.
N.Korea Reduces Delegation for Asian Games
North Korea has informed South Korea that it wants to send a 273-strong contingent to the Asian Games in Incheon next month. They include 150 athletes taking part in 14 events.
Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do told reporters Friday that North Korean Olympic Committee Vice Chairman Son Kwang-ho notified the South in a letter.
North Korea on Aug. 13 applied the Olympic Council of Asia to send 352 people to the Asian Games, but now the North seems to have cut around 80 non-athletes from the list.
Seoul still waiting on UN assessment for Mt. Keumgang tourism
Posted on : Aug.23,2014 14:18 KST
Lee Jong-bok holds a one-person demonstration in front of Goseong County Office calling for a resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang, on July 11, the sixth anniversary of when tourism was suspended. Lee owns a store in Goseong selling dried fish and his business has been devastated by the suspension of tourism.(provided by Lee Jong-bok)
Visiting US Treasury Department senior official recently said revenue from tourism to Mt. Keumgang would not violate sanctions
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
In response to a senior American official who said that UN sanctions against North Korea do not apply to tours to Mt. Keumgang, the South Korean government reiterated its standard position on Aug. 22 that it needs an authoritative interpretation from the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council.
During the official press briefing on Aug. 22, Unification Ministry Spokesperson Kim Ui-do responded to questions about the remarks made by the senior American official.
“We have to insure the safety of tourists, we need to figure out whether the tours are affected by the May 24 measures, and we need the UN sanctions committee to say that the tours are not related to weapons of mass destruction,” Kim said. In short, Kim was repeating the standard position of the South Korean government about the conditions necessary for resuming tourism to Mt. Keumgang.
N.Korea Selects Scores More Cheerleaders for Asiad
North Korea has selected even more cheerleaders to be sent to Incheon for the Asian Games opening on Sept. 19. Citing an unnamed source in Ryanggang Province, Radio Free Asia on Wednesday said authorities recruited 150 female university students in Pyongyang last month and another 150 from among artists and performers across the country.
A Report from the Field: Defending One Korea at the U20 Women’s World Cup
August 22, 2014
By Hyun Lee and Betsy Yoon | August 22, 2014
A joint publication of Korea Policy Institute and Foreign Policy in Focus
On a Tuesday in early August, North Korea’s women’s soccer team defeated Finland 2 to 1 in the opening match of the FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup in Toronto.
Yes, it was just a soccer game. But for those of us who were there to cheer on the North Korean team, the stakes were profound. International soccer fans routinely express their support by adorning themselves in the national colors and symbols of a single country. In our case, however, we came as the supporters of a peacefully reunified Korea.
[Inter Korean] [Unification]
Chinese tourists to spend $29 billion in Korea by 2020
By Lee Hyo-sik
Chinese visitors are expected to spend more than 30 trillion won ($29 billion) combined on various goods and services here, accounting for nearly 8 percent of Korea's entire domestic consumption, a study showed Wednesday.
According to Hana Daetoo Securities and the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of Chinese tourists to Korea will increase at an annual rate of 19.8 percent from 2014 through 2020. In 2020, the figure will reach 15 million. About 5.85 million are expected to come here in 2014, up 35.4 percent from 4.33 million in 2013.
The securities firm estimated that in 2020, Chinese visitors will spend a combined 30.5 trillion won to buy goods and services here, accounting for 7.7 percent of the nation's retail sector. The figure does not include the amount of money Chinese will spent on transportation, lodging and food.
N.Korea Submits Participant List for Asian Games
North Korea submitted a list of 352 delegates for the Incheon Asian Games to the Olympic Council of Asia. Then on Thursday last week contradicting the friendly action, the North fired five missiles on the same day Pope Francis was about to start his visit in South Korea.
"North Korea submitted a list of 352 delegates which include 150 athletes, 173 coaching staff, and 29 sports officials, referees and reporters, according to the organizing committee of the Incheon Asian Games on Thursday.
North Korea hopes to send 70 male and 80 female athletes to participate in 14 disciplines. The number is less than the number that participated in the 2002 Busan Asian Games when North Korea sent 184 athletes in 18 disciplines.
"The final entry will be decided early next month after all applications from the other 45 countries are finalized," an official from the organizing committee said.
N.Koreans to Visit Incheon for Asian Game Draw
A North Korean delegation will visit the South for an international conference and the draw for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
The organizing committee for the games said North Korea notified the Olympic Council of Asia that it will attend the conference in celebration of the Asiad from Aug. 20 to 22, and the draw on the 21st.
North Korea wants to take part in the games, but the two Koreas in a July 17 meeting failed to reach agreement over the question who should pay for hundreds of North Korean athletes and cheerleaders to take part in the games.
NK to open Mt. Geumgang golf course for foreigners
Seen is the field at the Ananti golf course at Mt. Geumgang / Korea Times file
North Korea may host an international amateur golf tournament next year at the Mount Geumgang tourist resort on the northern side of the inter-Korea border, said a British-based North Korea travel operator.
Dylan Harris, founder of the U.K.-based Lupine Travel which is organizing the event, said it has been held in Pyongyang since 2011, but will take place at the resort provided it opens in time.
"We are hoping to get access to the Ananti course at Mount Geumgang next year. If this happens, then we will host one day in Pyongyang and another day at Ananti," Harris told the Korea Times, citing a North Korean official.
The Ananti golf course, high in the hills of Mount Geumgang, boasts beautiful mountain and sea scenery, and is the only golf course that a South Korean company has invested in and built in North Korea.
[Kumgangsan] [Sanctions] [Response]
Pro wrestling troupe to visit North Korea
Japanese politican Antonio Inoki is seen in this poster advertising a package tour to North Korea. Foreign tourists will be able to watch a rare wrestling event in Pyongyang due to take place from Aug. 30-31. / Courtesy of Michael Spavor
World-famous fighters such as Bob Sapp will take part in an international professional wrestling and martial arts competition in Pyongyang on Aug. 30-31, according to Voice of America (VOA).
The event will take place at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium with 17 fighters participating, VOA said Saturday, quoting Michael Spavor.
Spavor, a consultant who helped facilitate Dennis Rodman's controversial visit to the North seven months ago, is taking foreign tour groups to the event.
The gymnasium is the same venue where the Rodman basketball game took place and where the former NBA hall of famer sang "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Spavor released the names of the nine international and eight Japanese wrestlers on his website (www.michaelspavor.com). They include K-1 fighters Bob Sapp from the United States, Peter Aerts from the Netherlands and Jerome Le Banner from France. Pro wrestlers Bobby Lashley from the U.S. and Meiko Satomura from Japan are also included.
North Korea eager for Asian Games
North Korea has repeated its desire to participate in the Incheon Asian Games through the North Korean website Uriminjokkiri.
"Our athletes and cheering squads will help the Inchon Asian Games thrive. It will be a good opportunity to improve North-South relations," according to a post on the website.
"Our athletes and coaches are training with the motivation that an international display of conduct, passion, dedication and humility will lead to friendly relations and peace with other nations around the world."
Hyundai Chairwoman to Visit Mt. Kumgang
Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun and some 20 Hyundai executives are visiting Mt. Kumgang in North Korea next Monday to attend a memorial service for Hyun's late husband.
The group will include the CEO of ill-fated tour operator Hyundai Asan, Cho Kun-shik, whose business has dried up since package tours to the North were suspended.
Hyun's husband, the former group chairman Chung Mong-hun, killed himself by jumping out of a window amid a corruption investigation 11 years ago.
"The government approved Hyundai's application to visit Mt. Kumgang," a Unification Ministry official said on Thursday. "Hyundai has no plan to meet North Korean officials there other than those attending the memorial service."
Hyun last went to Mt. Kumgang last August to mark the death of her husband, who is respected in the North due to his ties with former dictator Kim Jong-il.
Hyun is expected to tour her company's shuttered facilities and return in the afternoon of the same day.
N.Korea's Asiad Participation in Limbo
With just 50 days remaining until the opening of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, cross-border talks about North Korea's participation in the Asiad are not making much progress.
The organizing committee of the Incheon Asian Games on Wednesday said the two Koreas cannot agree on the number of North Korean athletes and cheerleaders and the extent to which the South should subsidize their stay.
North Korean officials walked out of a meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom on July 17 and have not been in touch since.
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N. Korea still planning to participate in Incheon Asian Games
Posted on : Jul.22,2014 11:57 KST
North Korean cheerleaders support their men’s soccer team as they play Hong Kong on Sept. 28, 2002 in a match held at Changwon Civic Stadium at part of the Busan Asian Games
Official media report on participation is the latest of NK’s duplicitous behavior, moving between peace and hostility
By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter
North Korea is reiterating its intention to participate in the Incheon Asian Games. Also, North Korea has yet again claimed that South Korea is responsible for the breakdown of inter-Korean working-level talks on July 17. North Korea could be trying to use the question of its participation in the Asian Games as a pretext for demanding a change in attitude from South Korean authorities.
North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on July 20 that “the Joseon (NK) Olympic Committee has decided to send its athletes to the 17th Asian Games that will take place from September 19 to October 4 in Incheon, South Korea.” This is to say that despite the broken-down inter-Korean working-level talks, North Korea has not changed its position about sending athletes and a cheering squad to Incheon for the Games.
North Korea walks out of inter-Korean talks on Asian Games
Posted on : Jul.18,2014 17:15 KST
Negotiators from North and South Korea met at the House of Peace on the South Korean side of Panmunjeom, discussing issues related to the Incheon Asian Games, July 17. In the photo, the senior representatives, Kwon Kyung-sang from the South and Son Gwang-ho from the North, are hiding behind their colleagues. (provided by the Ministry of Unification)
Meetings stumble on question of cheerleading squad and end without a follow-up meeting being scheduled
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
During the inter-Korean working-level talks held on July 17, North Korea proposed sending 350 athletes and 350 cheerleaders, to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. The combined total of 700 people would be the most that North Korea has ever sent to the South for an event of this sort.
But the North Korean delegates walked out of the meeting after making an issue of the South Korean attitude, declaring that the talks had broken down. It may be difficult for the two sides to return to the table for the time being.
At 10 am, negotiators from North and South Korea sat down across from each other in the House of Peace on the South Korean side of Panmunjeom, discussing issues related to the games over the course of three general sessions. During the first session, held that morning, the North announced that it would send 350 athletes and 350 members of a cheering team to the Incheon Asian Games.
2 Koreas Fail to Agree Over Asian Games
North and South Korea failed to reach agreement on Thursday about Pyongyang's plan to dispatch athletes and cheerleaders to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon in September.
The North Korean delegation, in a characteristic move, stormed out of the meeting room.
The biggest point of contention was apparently the number of the athletes and cheerleaders Pyongyang wanted to send. The North said it would send 350 athletes and 350 cheerleaders and asked the South to provide accommodation, although it had originally said it would send around 150 athletes.
The athletes were to fly and the cheerleaders to take a train, and the North also wanted to anchor a ferry in Incheon to house the cheerleaders during their stay.
Officials from the two Korea meet in the border village of Panmunjom on Thursday. /News 1 Officials from the two Korea meet in the border village of Panmunjom on Thursday. /News 1
Seoul responded by offering accommodation "according to international practice."
A government official said, "At past international sporting events, it was customary to provide all accommodation free of charge for the North Koreans, but we decided to adhere to international practice this time. And under Olympic Council of Asia regulations, each country is responsible for the expenses incurred by its athletes and cheering squads, although accommodation subsidies are provided for underdeveloped countries that are sending a small group of athletes.
[Sports diplomacy] [Rebuff] [SK NK policy]
American athletes get star treatment in Iran
“People look at me like I have two heads,” said James Ravannack, describing the reaction he gets when he explains to people what a fabulous time he had in Iran. Ravannack, president of USA Wrestling, told Al-Monitor that he “can’t wait to go back” and wants to take his family along to stay for a month.
Sports diplomacy is on the rise again between the United States and Iran, spearheaded by American wrestlers.
Author Barbara Slavin
Posted July 10, 2014
Competing in May in a packed Tehran stadium in the World Cup for Greco-Roman wrestling, the American team is part of a revived spate of athletic and other US cultural exchanges with Iran. Both countries are opening the door for people-to-people diplomacy as their nuclear negotiators engage in a different kind of interaction and competition in Vienna.
In addition to the American wrestlers, US polo players have competed in Iran, and Iranian volleyball players are scheduled to take part in four matches in Southern California Aug. 9-16 against the US men’s national team. Iranian wrestlers have been invited to Chicago in November to a Greco-Roman competition called the Curby Cup. Soccer exchanges are also being considered by several groups, playing off the growing popularity of the sport in the United States as a result of this year’s World Cup.
Sports diplomacy goes back to ancient times and in the modern era to 1896, when Greece hosted a revived Olympic Games. Sports have played a role more recently in overcoming hostility between the United States and its geopolitical adversaries. The organizers of the latest Iranian-US exchanges hope their efforts will advance US-Iranian understanding in the same way that ping-pong helped break the ice between the United States and China in 1971.
On sixth anniversary, one trillion won in losses from halted Mt. Keumgang tours
Posted on : Jul.14,2014 16:52 KST
Lee Jong-bok holds a one-person demonstration in front of Goseong County Office calling for a resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang, on July 11, the sixth anniversary of when tourism was suspended. Lee owns a store in Goseong selling dried fish and his business has been devastated by the suspension of tourism.(provided by Lee Jong-bok)
South Korean government says no plans to resume tours, which could violate UN sanctions
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
July 11 was the 6th anniversary of the day when tours to Mt. Keumgang in North Korea were suspended. The businesses who have invested in the tourism complex and the residents of Goseong County, Gangwon Province are calling for the tours to be resumed, but the government is sticking to its standard position that it must get North Korea to guarantee the safety of tourists as well as consider whether such tours would violate UN sanctions against the North.
On July 10 and 11, the Mt. Kumgang Entrepreneurs Association, which includes 49 companies that have invested in the tourism complex, held press conferences at the National Assembly and at the Central Government Complex in central Seoul.
“As a result of the suspension of tourism to Mt. Keumgang, we have lost nearly 1 trillion won [US$981 million], including the 300 billion won [US$294.32 million] invested in the facilities and an estimated 530 billion won in lost revenue,” the investors said. They urged the governments of North and South Korea to immediately hold working-level talks to resume tourism to Mt. Keumgang and to hold reunions for divided families.
“While we are ignoring relations with North Korea, the North is reconciling with Japan and working to develop its own special zones for tourism. We don’t understand why the South Korean government continues to block tourism at Mt. Keumgang, when it immediately took action to resume operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex during the halt,” said Lee Jong-heung, vice chairman of the association.
The South Korean government is sticking to the position that it cannot permit the resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang.
[SK NK policy] [Kumgangsan] [Sanctions]
N.Korea Seeks Talks About Asian Games
North Korea on Thursday proposed cross-border talks about dispatching athletes and a cheerleading squad to the 17th Asian Games in Incheon in September.
The North's Olympic Committee chairman on Thursday sent a message to the chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Asian Games, the state-run [North] Korean Central News Agency reported. He proposed talks in the truce village of Panmunjom around July 15 to discuss the North's dispatch of athletes and a cheering squad to the event.
A Unification Ministry official said the government is "reviewing the proposal."
The two sides will probably focus on transportation for the North Koreans and financing for their stay here.
[Inter Korea] [Sports diplomacy]
North Korea proposes talks on Incheon Asian Games
Posted on : Jul.11,2014 19:03 KST
North Korean cheerleaders support their men’s soccer team as they play Hong Kong on Sept. 28, 2002 in a match held at Changwon Civic Stadium at part of the Busan Asian Games
Discussion of athletes and cheerleading squad could lead to inter-Korean dialogue on other matters
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
North Korea made a proposal on July 10 to hold working-level inter-Korean talks in Panmunjeom on July 15 to discuss specifics related to the athletes and cheerleading squads it plans to send to the September Asian Games in Incheon.
The South Korean government plans to examine the proposal before sending a response around July 11. Observers are watching closely to see if the sports talks provide some opening for future dialogue.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on July 10 that the head of their Olympic committee had sent a message to the chair of the organizing committee for the 17th Asian Games.
“It contained a proposal to hold working-level North-South talks by the relevant officials some time around July 15, either in the North or South side of Panmunjom, to discuss various issues that have been raised with regard to the [North Korean] athletes’ participation in the games and the sending of a cheerleading squad,” the report said.
Kim Jong Un Gives Field Guidance to Construction Site of Terminal of Pyongyang Int'l Airport
Pyongyang, July 11 (KCNA) -- Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, gave field guidance to the construction site of the Terminal of Pyongyang International Airport.
After being briefed on its construction in front of the maps showing its bird's eye view and development and ichnography, he went round the exterior and interior of Terminal No. 2 to learn about the progress made in it.
Noting that the soldier-builders have successfully carried out the construction of the terminal as intended by the party, he said he was pleased with their work. Praising them for having done a lot of work, he indicated the tasks to be fulfilled to wind up the construction and ways to do so.
[Infrastructure] [Military economy]
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Two Koreas plan friendly table tennis for disabled
By Kang Seung-woo
South Korea and North Korea will hold a disabled table tennis competition in September ahead of the Asian Para Games in Incheon if the North decides to participate in the quadrennial sports event, a charity leader said Friday.
"I had discussions with high-ranking officials from the central committee of North Korea's association for protection of the disabled about holding the table tennis contest," Green Tree Charity Foundation co-head Shin Young-soon.
Shin visited Pyongyang and the Wonsan area during an eight-day trip in mid-June. She discussed the Para Games and inspected facilities for disabled people.
The foundation is a U.S.-based charity group that has supplied food and medical equipment to disabled people and medical institutions in North Korea.
Hovership holidays: North Korean architects shake up tourism
From hovership holiday homes to high-tech treehouses and pink boudoirs perfect for Lady Penelope, a new exhibition called Utopian Tours shows the brave new world North Korean architects would build if there were no constraints
theguardian.com, Tuesday 10 June 2014 11.48 BST
Cliffs of blue mirror glass plunge towards a waterfall, as space-age hoverships dock on glistening conical towers. Buildings shaped like spinning-tops nestle between lush mountainsides, connected by ski slopes, while a glass bubble train snakes through the valley. These could be scenes from a Dan Dare comic, showing the holiday hideouts of the Mekon and his chums. In fact, they are rare glimpses of how North Korean architects imagine their future.
“We gave them a completely open brief to dream up designs for what tourism might be like in their country,” says Nick Bonner, the Beijing-based curator and tour operator who commissioned the paintings, which are currently on show in the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale (which won the Golden Lion for best pavilion). “We asked them to go crazy, to see what they would come up with given absolutely no constraints.”
North Korea – DPRK Tour
What Next for The World's Most Isolated State?
We look at life inside North Korea as it comes to terms with the death of Kim Jung Il. The tour is led by the world renown Korea expert, Prof. Rudiger Frank.
Dates: April 26 - May 6, 2014, and 13-23 Sept. 2014
Price: £2750.00 - Single Sup: £250
One-day Bus Tour of Hoeryong by Chinese People
Pyongyang, June 3 (KCNA) -- Chinese people made the first one-day bus tour of Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province, the DPRK.
After the tour, the Chinese tourists told that they were deeply impressed by their visit to the DPRK.
Jin Bo (male: 55), deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office in Yanbian Korean Nationality Autonomous Prefecture, told as follows:
The one-day tour from Longjin to Hoeryong, China by Chinese bus helped the tourists deepen their friendly feelings towards the DPRK.
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North Korea officially announces participation in 2014 Incheon Asian Games
Posted on : May.24,2014 13:38 KST
The North’s participation could help mend inter-Korean relations, though a unified Korean team will not be fielded
By Lee Yong-in, staff reporter
With North and South Korea unable to find a way to repair relations, North Korea officially announced on May 23 that it would be sending a delegation of athletes to the 2014 Asian Games, which will be taking place in Incheon in September.
On May 23, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that “as a member state of the Olympic Council of Asia, which espouses the ideals of peace, unity, and amity, the DPRK Olympic Committee decided to send a delegation of North Korean contestants to the 17th Asian Games, which will be held in Incheon from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.”
Pyongyang’s official announcement of its participation in the Asian Games comes after several months of uncertainty. Indeed, North Korea had already stated in January that both its male and female soccer teams would be competing in the soccer games in Incheon.
[Overture] [Sports diplomacy]
Kim Jong-un emphasizes sports promotion
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watched a male football match with his staff officers, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Friday.
Kim watched the game between the Man Kyung Bong and So Baek Su teams in the Mangyeongdaesang sports competition to commemorate the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung.
The exact time and place were not known, the KCNA reported. Kim emphasized the need to “elevate the athletic skills and systems of football to a higher level.” Kim also suggested a series of guidelines to develop sports in North Korea, but the KCNA report did not elaborate.
N. Korea, China simplify border-crossing for Chinese tourists
North Korea and China have simplified border-crossing procedures for Chinese tourists traveling to the North, China's state media reported Monday, in another sign that Pyongyang is eager to boost tourism income.
The move allows Chinese people who take tours from China's border cities in Jilin and Liaoning provinces to get a "travel pass" to North Korea within 24 hours, compared with the previous two days, the state-run China Daily reported.
Chinese city launches bicycle tours to DPRK
English.news.cn 2014-05-02 22:01:26
CHANGCHUN, May 2 (Xinhua) -- A border city in northeast China launched Friday bicycle tours to the neighboring Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as tourism to the country booms.
Thirty-five Chinese tourists joined the first self-drive travel by bicycle from Tumen City, Jilin Province, to DPRK's Namyang city, said organizers. The tourists spent three hours in the DPRK.
The bicycle tour is inexpensive and only needs simple procedures, said an official of the Tumen Tourism Bureau. He said the route is expected to attract more tourists to the DPRK.
Excursions by train from Tumen to the DPRK's Chilbosan resumed on Wednesday. The tourist train was launched in April 2012, but was later suspended.
Tumen has highway and railway service to the DPRK.
Passes to DPRK made easier
China Daily, May 5, 2014
Tumen in Jilin province has simplified the procedures for tours to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and applicants can get their passes ready in as little as a day.
The first group of 35 Chinese cyclists enter the Democratic People's Republic of Korea via Tumen port in Jilin on Friday, after Tumen opened a one-day tour taking visitors to the DPRK. During the six-hour tour, the cyclists visited the Nanyo railway station and a statue of Kim Il-sung. [Photo/Xinhua]
With passports and ID cards, tourists can get a one-day pass to the country within 24 hours. For motorists, driver's licenses also are required. Currently, the service is only available via travel agencies for group tourists.
Previously, the procedure for getting a pass from China's border cities in Jilin and Liaoning provinces to the DPRK usually took two days. Tourists had to apply for the pass through travel agencies one week in advance.
The first bicycle tour group from China to the DPRK visited on Friday. The three-hour tour went from Tumen to Nanyo in the DPRK.
Tourism in North Korea: right or wrong? Defectors make their case
As North Korea opens its doors to more tourists, NK News asks whether it's ethical to contribute to the coffers of a regime that commits grave human rights abuses
•Poll: Would you travel to North Korea?
Chad O'Carroll for NK News, part of the North Korea network
theguardian.com, Thursday 1 May 2014 13.18 BST
Japanese tourists in South Korea, look at a village in North Korea's Kaepoong county through binoculars.
While debate about the appropriateness of tourism in North Korea has swirled for many years, it has become increasingly prominent of late. Increasing tourist numbers have meant increasing attention on the subject, while a flurry of recent tourist arrests have underscored the diplomatic ramifications of the industry like never before.
Proponents typically argue that the people-to-people contact enabled by North Korea tourism helps improve local views of foreigners, which, following decades of isolation and propaganda about the decadence and vulgarity of Western capitalism, is a good thing. Some go even further and suggest that tourism has a potentially subversive effect – that interaction with foreigners shows North Korean citizens just how far behind they are from the developed world, subsequently influencing them to question their government’s intentions more.
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Seoul says no unified Korean team at Incheon Asian Games
Posted on : Apr.5,2014 14:24 KST
Modified on : Apr.5,2014 14:41 KST
South and North Korean team the teams enter the opening ceremony together during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
Unified team nixed due to recent tensions with North, even as Pres. Park pays lip service to increased inter-Korean cooperation
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
The South Korean government announced that it would not permit the formation of a joint South and North Korean team during the 17th Asian Games, which will be held in Incheon in September, and that it would not allow the teams to enter the opening and closing ceremonies together. The government’s decision was motivated by recent incidents, including artillery exchange by North and South Korea around the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West (Yellow) Sea and small North Korean drones that crashed in South Korean territory. The fact remains that the South Korean government is declining to take part in even the most basic kinds of exchange and cooperation with North Korea just one week after Park made her Dresden address.
[Dresden] [Joint Korean] [Sport diplomacy]
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One family’s Mt. Keumgang tragedy
Posted on : Mar.26,2014 15:53 KST
Modified on : Mar.26,2014 16:06 KST
Jang Bo-hyun’s journal, which was given by her daughter Lee Sang-young to the Hankyoreh. (photo provided by Lee Sang-young)
After tourism to mountain resort was suspended in 2008, businesses operated there went under
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
That evening, Jang Bo-hyun, went to bed much the same as she always had. But the next morning - Mar. 9, 2010 - she didn’t wake up. The 57-year-old had died of sudden heart failure.
Jang had run a shop and restaurant at the Mt. Keumgang tourism complex in North Korea until July 2008, when tours to the mountain were discontinued. After that, she complained how she felt frustrated and insecure about making a living. Twenty months after her business shut down, her life came to an end.
Unification White Paper hints at resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang
Posted on : Mar.25,2014 12:06 KST
This year’s White Paper shows a more forward-thinking stance on possible resumption, though ministry says principles have not changed
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
The Ministry of Unification adopted a forward-thinking message on the resumption of tourism at Mt. Keumgang in its 2014 Unification White Paper.
The announcement that it plans to “work for the resumption of tourism” at the Mt. Keumgang complex in North Korea is now raising questions about whether President Park Geun-hye will mention it in the “Korean Peninsula Unification Initiative” she is set to announce in Dresden, Germany on Mar. 28.
The 2014 White Paper, published by the ministry on Mar. 24, states that the administration “plans to work continues to allay the public’s concerns about tourism at Mt. Keumgang and ensure that it can be resumed in a way that contributes to development.”
'I just wanted to do great things': Tearful Dennis Rodman says he's sorry he went to North Korea as he vows never to return
The former NBA star wept as he told ESPN he never meant to hurt anyone with two trips to the repressive nation
Rodman was widely criticized after singing Happy Birthday to ruthless dictator Kim Jong Un
Rodman was slammed for not using his influence with Kim to help free Kenneth Bae, the ill missionary who is being confined for 'anti-state' crimes
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 01:39 GMT, 10 March 2014 | UPDATED: 14:48 GMT, 10 March 2014
Dennis Rodman has given an emotional and apologetic interview two months after his trips to North Korea in which he vowed not to return to the brutal, repressive country.
'I don't want people to look at me as the devil or evil person,' Rodman told ESPN. 'If I put anyone in harm's way, I apologize, you know.'
Though he's sorry at how things turned out, the former NBA star said he was just giving peace a shot.
'At least someone tried,' he said.
With no tourism to Mt. Keumgang, county economy in shambles
Posted on : Feb.28,2014 11:53 KST
The road in Goseong County, Gangwon Province that leads to Mt. Keumgang in North Korea. Before tours were suspended in 2008, this 100m stretch had four supermarkets and ten restaurants. There are now only two supermarkets and one restaurant. (by Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter)
Residents of Goseong, Gangwon Province desperately hoping tourism to Mt. Keumgang is resumed soon
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter in Goseong
“I just wish the government would give a definite answer on whether it plans to resume tourism to Mt. Keumgang or not.”
These were the words of Lee Jong-bok, the 57-year-old proprietor of Last Stop Squid, as he spoke to a Hankyoreh reporter on Feb. 22. His dried seafood store, located at the northernmost tip of South Korea in Goseong County, Gangwon Province, has been in dire straits since he took over in 2006, at a cost of 200 million won (US$187,000). In July 2008, just a year and a half after he acquired it, he had to keep the store open only irregularly when tourism at the North Korean mountain resort was suspended.
The number of visitors dwindled from nearly 50,000 a month to just a few thousand. Even at peak season during the summer holidays, the store opens its doors for only a short time. Lee keeps food on the table doing odd jobs and farm work.
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Netizens satirize Korea’s export of gold medallist
Posted on : Feb.19,2014 12:11 KST
Modified on : Feb.19,2014 12:21 KST
Victor Ahn changed his nationality due to strife within S. Korea skating administration, and has won gold for Russia in Sochi
By Park Seung-heon, staff reporter
Russian President Vladimir Putin comes into a room smiling, South Korean President Park Geun-hye is seen from behind, in a November 2013 photo taken during Putin’s visit to the Blue House in South Korea.
The photo was given the name, ‘Is this the cheapest gold medal selling spot?’ It satirizes the current situation where a talented 29 year-old short track speed skater, Victor Ahn, whose Korean name is Ahn Hyun-soo, became a Russian national and won the first gold medal ever in Russian short track Olympic history. The photo describes President Putin visiting South Korea as a kind of shopping trip for talented athletes who can win gold medals for Russia.
Following the news of Ahn’s gold medal victory, there have been a number of online satires, reflecting both a sense of pity regarding Ahn’s decision to change his nationality and criticism of the South Korean sports organizations that caused the current situation.
S. Korean-born Russian short tracker says defection was 'right choice'
With his first Olympic gold medal for his adopted Russia around his neck, Viktor Ahn, the short track star born as Ahn Hyun-soo in South Korea, said he made "the right choice" in switching allegiances.
Ahn captured the men's 1,000m gold medal on Saturday at Iceberg Skating Palace. It was Russia's first Olympic gold in short track. Earlier, Ahn had won the bronze in the 1,500m.
The 1,000m title was Ahn's fourth career gold medal, making him the most decorated male short tracker in Olympic history
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Before Rodman, there was Inoki
Geoffrey K. See | Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Wrestler turned parliamentarian Inoki
On the plane from Beijing to Pyongyang in November, I ran into Japanese Upper House Parliamentarian Kanji (Antonio) Inoki. He had his trademark bright red scarf on, and his distinctive chin caught my attention. Later that week, he met with the recently executed Jang Sung Taek and became known as the last foreigner who had seen Jang.
To those who do not follow Korea-Japan relations or Pro-Wrestling, Antonio Inoki is not a name that would ring a bell. Many of us know Dennis Rodman and his latest antics in North Korea, but before Rodman’s exhibition match, one of the highest profile-sporting event held in North Korea was an international wrestling competition, with Muhammad Ali, Ric Flair and Antonio Inoki attending. Collision in Korea took place in Pyongyang in 1995 in front of a crowd of over 300,000.
Guus Hiddink to Visit N.Korea
Guus Hiddink, the former manager of the South Korean national football team, may visit North Korea.
A Unification Ministry official on Friday said Hiddink last month said he would like to see North Korea and asked about the procedure if he was to cross the land border. He has not yet mad an official application.
The goal of Hiddink's visit is to promote sports exchanges with North Korea including building a futsal field and holding futsal matches in the North.
Hiddink has built several futsal fields in South Korea through the Guus Hiddink Foundation.
Since he is not a South Korean citizen, he does not need authorization from the South Korean government to visit North Korea through China, but approval by the South Korean government is required if he intends to cross the border from South Korea.
The ministry official said Hiddink did not offer a detailed schedule. "The government's policy is to allow social and cultural exchanges with North Korea, so once we receive the application, we'll review and approve it," the official added.
N. Korea to send teams to Asian Games in Incheon this year
Posted on : Jan.21,2014 15:47 KST
Modified on : Jan.21,2014 15:50 KST
Kenneth Bae addresses reporters at a press conference in Pyongyang, Jan. 20. Bae said during the press conference that he hopes cooperation between the US and North Korea can secure his release. (KCNA/Yonhap News)
Throughout history of inter-Korean relations, sports have often been a vehicle for rapprochement
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
North Korea has announced its intention to send its men’s and women’s soccer teams to participate in the Incheon Asian Games in September and is asking for ‘reconciliation’ with South Korea in an attempt to improve inter-Korean relations.
On Jan. 16, North Korea made an official proposal to halt ‘mutual slander, libel, and offensive military actions’ in the name of its National Defense Commission. North Korea confirmed its determination to be the first to take action. Although the recent announcement isn’t related to any mutual slander, libel or offensive military actions, it is noteworthy for the possibility that it could lead to improvement of North-South relations through the mutual love of sports, an emblematic area of inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.
Given that it has been 12 years since North Korea participated in the 2002 Asian Games held in Busan, its participation in Incheon is especially meaningful. The 350 cheerleaders sent with the North Korean athletes drew great attention 12 years ago among South Korean people. Historically, sports have led to breakthroughs in solving conflicts between North and South Korea.
[Overture] [Peace diplomacy]
N.Korea to Send Footballers to Incheon Games
North Korea will send its football teams to the 2014 Incheon Asian Games from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, the official KCNA news agency said on Monday.
It added that both the men's and women's teams also plan to participate in the AFC Championship and other FIFA tournaments this year, but failed to mention whether the country will participate in other events at the Asian Games.
North Korea is the only one of the 45 member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia that has not officially confirmed its full participation at the upcoming Asian Games. It competed at the last three editions in Busan in 2002, Doha in 2006 and Guangzhou in 2010.
The Organizing Committee of the Incheon Asian Games said that although it has not received any official notice from the OCA, it welcomes Pyongyang's decision to compete at least at some level.
International Matches to Be Played by DPRK Footballers This Year
Pyongyang, January 20 (KCNA) -- Footballers of the DPRK will play various international matches this year.
In July boys will play matches for berth for the 2015 AFC U-22 Championship.
They will also participate in AFC U-14, U-16 and U-19 championships scheduled to be held in Iran, Thailand and Myanmar in August, September and October.
Men and women football teams will play matches of the 2014 Asian Games from Sep. 19 to Oct. 4.
Women footballers will also participate in the 2014 FIFA U-17, U-20 Women World Cups which will begin in Costa Rica from mid-March and in Canada from early August.
Foreign Dignitaries Test N.Korean Ski Resort
Foreign diplomats and officials with international organizations have visited the newly opened Masikryong ski resort in North Korea, the official Rodong Sinmun daily reported on Thursday.
The paper carried nine photos of the resort, one showing a foreigner renting skis.
While few North Koreans can afford a trip to the ski resort, the resort is a pet project of leader Kim Jong-un, who went to school in Switzerland, and seems determined to attract foreign tourists in a bid to earn hard currency.
Many Chinese Tourists Disappointed by Koreans
Many Chinese tourists leave Korea with a bad taste in their mouth, a straw poll suggests. The Chosun Ilbo late last year interviewed 100 Chinese visitors to Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun and Gangam shopping districts, and that 25 said their image of Korea got worse due to their visit, while 37 said they felt belittled or even derided by Koreans.
Yet a total of 3.92 million Chinese tourists visited Korea last year to become the largest group of visitors to the country. Chinese tourists are big spenders, spending an average of US$2,154 in Korea in 2012 compared to the overall average of $1,530 for all tourists.
Some of the tourists said they could tell they were being sneered at even though they do not speak Korean. Eighteen said they sensed it from certain words or tone of voice.
And 10 said they understand enough Korean to know when they are being derided.
Most of the Chinese visitors had a positive attitude to the country when they arrived here. Korean soap operas and pop music played a major role in fostering goodwill.
Experts warn that discrimination and disdain from Koreans could prompt more people from China to take their business elsewhere.
Chung Duk-koo of the Northeast Asia Research Foundation said, "The starting point of Korea-China relations is the first impression Chinese tourists get when they visit our country." If they get a bad impression and feel Koreans are rude, this could have devastating effects that go beyond the tourism industry, he added.
[China confrontation] [Unintended consequences]
Rodman in North Korea
by BINOY KAMPMARK
What is it about the physically ornamented Dennis Rodman that gets on people’s goat? He is much like the Italian footballer Mario Balotelli, but his clownish antics are of a different sort. Balotelli, for one, tends to avoid getting into the muck of worshiping the bete noire types of international politics. If you are going to be notorious as a sportsman, shag indiscriminately, buy dearly and provoke instinctively. Break hearts, but not the puritanical will of governments. Don’t chat with leaders of unfavoured police states – the road there shall lead you nowhere.
Last Wednesday, Rodman drank from what must have been a stronger potion than usual, the sort that induces giddiness and public relations madness. He did what sports stars and celebrities have done since the stage set got spectators. He sang. He sang, rather badly, a happy birthday tribute to Kim Jung-un. Prior to the match, he played, along with a varied group of ex-NBA players, in an exhibition match, conforming to the custom of show for cash and tribute.
Chinese Tourists Outnumber Japanese
Chinese tourists outnumbered Japanese visitors to Korea for the first time last year. Chinese tour groups multiplied dramatically thanks to the explosive growth of the Chinese economy in the 2000s, while Japanese traveler numbers were affected by the economic slump, the weakening yen and chilly relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
Some 3.92 million Chinese visited South Korea last year not counting airline and cruise ship crews, up 43.6 percent from 2.73 million the previous year, according to the Justice Ministry on Tuesday. They accounted for 36.7 percent or more than one-third of all foreign visitors.
But only 2.71 million Japanese visited during the same period, down 22.4 percent from 3.49 million on-year.
Rodman Showers Kim Jong-un with Bling
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman gave North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife with US$10,000 worth of gifts, including expensive whiskey and luxury handbags. Rodman brought an entourage of former pro basketball players to Pyongyang on Jan. 7 to play in a friendly marking Kim's 30th birthday.
Dennis Halpin at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said the total cost of the gifts was "reportedly well over $10,000” and included "several hundred dollars' worth of Irish Jameson whiskey." The bling also included European crystal, a fur coat, Italian clothing and a Mulberry handbag.
Jameson's whiskey costs between $30 and $1,300 per bottle varying by age and type. Halpin said the whiskey was included among the gifts because Irish betting company Paddy Power sponsored Rodman's trip to North Korea.
Privatizing Diplomacy, Dennis Rodman Style
by CHAD E. NELSON
The verdict is in: All civilized people must hate Dennis Rodman. Politicians from John McCain to John Kerry and pundits from Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews are outraged that an American would visit the third member of the Axis of Evil. Earlier this week Rodman, along with six fellow former NBA players, arrived in Pyongyang, playing an exhibition basketball game against a team of North Koreans. The game took place as part of Kim Jong Un’s birthday celebration. The politicians and pundits are aghast, and most Americans are not far behind them in their hysteria. The atmosphere evokes George Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate.” Any deviation from McCain’s or Clinton’s hardline hatred of our mortal enemy borders on treason. The nightly headlines detail Rodman’s idiocy.
Is Rodman’s trip really that bad? I don’t think so. I think it’s an extremely positive step in the right direction if one is truly concerned with the freedom of North Koreans. Can anyone name a single thing that the State Department has done to normalize relations between our two feuding governments? Have Hillary Clinton, John Kerry or any other so-called diplomats spoken with their North Korean counterparts, let alone traveled there to show solidarity with North Korean citizens? So what if the North Korean government is “unreasonable” or “insane?” A state diplomat’s sole job is to forge peaceful and harmonious relationships with other state actors, no matter how difficult.
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea are all about ego, not diplomacy
The friendship between the former basketball star and Kim Jong-un shows two needy men desperately trying to maintain their own fantasies about themselves
The Guardian, Friday 10 January 2014 17.30 GMT
Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman
There is something creepily similar in the needs of Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman, writes Deborah Orr. Photograph: Kcna/AFP/Getty Images
The bizarre friendship between US basketball player Dennis Rodman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un may seem weird enough to be amusing. Certainly, Rodman's fourth trip to North Korea has attracted plenty of sniggering attention, from reports of Rodman singing happy birthday to Kim (whose date of birth wasn't even previously known) to reports of Rodman apologising for an outburst defending Kim's human rights record by saying that it was the consequence of having too much to drink.
Kim Jong Un marks birthday with basketball game
China.org.cn, January 9, 2014
Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and his wife Lee Seol Ju celebrated the birthday of Kim Jong Un by watching a friendly basketball game between the U.S. and North Korean teams on Jan. 8 in Pyongyang.
Rodman Sings 'Happy Birthday' for Kim Jong-un
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman and his entourage of ex-basketball players put on a friendly match with North Korean athletes in Pyongyang on Wednesday to mark leader Kim Jong-un's 30th birthday.
Before the match began, Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" as the North Korean leader watched, prompting somewhat less than spontaneous applause from the 14,000 spectators in the stadium.
Rodman, who refers to Kim as his "best friend," said the match was a "birthday present" for the North Korean leader. Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju also watched the game.
Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours, which leads package trips to the Stalinist country, said Kim smiled as if he was "surprised."
Dennis Rodman sings Dennis Rodman sings "Happy Birthday" for North Korea leader Kim Jong-un at a stadium in Pyongyang on Wednesday. /AP-Newsis
Earlier, Rodman blew up during a live interview with CNN. Appearing on CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday flanked by his entourage, Rodman was asked by host Chris Cuomo if he is willing to ask for the release of detained Korean-American Kenneth Bae. Rodman shouted, "Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand what Kenneth Bae did -- do you understand what he did in this country?"
Kim Jong Un Watches Basketball Game of DPRK, American Players
Pyongyang, January 8 (KCNA) -- A basketball game was played by the American basketball team of ex-NBA stars and Korean players of the Hwaebul team of the DPRK at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. The American team is now on a visit to the DPRK for sports exchange.
The match was watched by sports fans, people from all walks of life and youth and students.
Among the spectators were foreign diplomatic envoys, representatives of international bodies, military attaches and their wives, staff members of various embassies, foreign guests and overseas Koreans staying in the motherland.
Supreme leader Kim Jong Un came out to the stadium together with Ri Sol Ju to watch the game.
He was warmly greeted by Dennis Rodman, American ex-NBA star.
Ex-NBA star defends controversial visit to DPRK
Xinhua, January 8, 2014
Former American basketball star Dennis Rodman on Tuesday defended his contentious trip to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), saying it was a "great idea for the world."
Talking to CNN in an interview from Pyongyang, Rodman reacted belligerently to questions about the trip to DPRK with a group of retired National Basketball Association (NBA) players, claiming it could help "open the door" to the Asian nation.
Rodman and his fellow players plan to take part in a basketball game on Wednesday to mark the birthday of DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un.
On his fourth trip to DPRK in a year, Rodman has been under criticism from home for not taking the opportunities to raise with Kim the issue of U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, who's been detained there for more than a year.
[Rodman] [Sort diplomacy]
Dennis Rodman and former NBA stars play basketball with North Korean amateurs – video
Former NBA stars Dennis Rodman, Charles D. Smith, Doug Christie, and Vin Baker coach basketball to North Korean amateurs. Rodman hopes his trip to Pyongyang will improve relations between the US and North Korea. The former Chicago Bulls star has urged US citizens not to be negative towards him or the other former professionals when they return home. Rodman's team of ex-NBA players will compete against a North Korean team on Wednesday as a birthday present for leader Kim Jong-Un
Give Dennis Rodman a Break
By Andray Abrahamian
08 January 2014
This oped was originally published on CNN Opinion on January 7, 2014. Andray Abrahamian is a contributor to 38 North and executive director of Choson Exchange, a nonprofit that provides educational training in business and economics for young North Koreans.
(CNN) – This week, we’ve been treated to the increasingly familiar sight of former NBA star and provocateur Dennis Rodman attending events in Pyongyang, North Korea. It’s his fourth trip in less than 12 months.
On Tuesday, an angry Rodman defended his visit in a CNN interview straight from Pyongyang, at one point saying to “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo, “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the hell you think …” in response to question about Kenneth Bae, an American detained in North Korea.
When will we tire of this circus?
In case you don’t watch cable news, you might miss that the media really loves this kind of thing. No story about North Korea is too weird to go unreported, even if there is no real information to disseminate. Recall the recent rumor that Kim Jong Un’s uncle was executed by being fed to hungry dogs, which most likely was started as satire on Chinese social media but was at first reported widely in the media (CNN was unable to confirm and did not report the story).
In media discourse, North Korea is the classic enemy. The regime’s injustices, quirks and dysfunctions are reassuring to Americans that their own country is just the opposite: Normal, well-functioning, a land of peace and liberty.
But add in Rodman to the North Korea story, and it’s bound to produce eye-popping headlines: The Weird American Athlete Goes to Weird Country story is just too easy not to cover.
Divided family reunions could depend on resuming tourism at Mt. Keumgang
Posted on : Jan.7,2014 14:58 KST
A staff member passes by the front of the reception desk where members of divided families seeking reunions with their relatives in North Korea register for possible reunions at the Korean Red Cross offices in Seoul, Jan. 6. On the same day, President Park Geun-hye proposed holding reunions of divided families around the Lunar New Year holiday. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)
Pres. Park has suggested holding family reunions, but Pyongyang may only agree if financially gainful tours are resumed
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
There are questions over whether reunions for families divided by the Korean War, which were delayed in 2013, can soon be held after President Park Geun-hye proposed holding the reunions to North Korea at the New Year press conference on Jan. 6.
It appears that the question of whether the reunions of divided families will take place depends on whether the South Korean government will accept North Korea’s request to resume tourism to Mt. Keumgang.
At 3 pm on Jan. 6 - immediately after Park made the proposal - the Unification Ministry sent a telephone message to North Korea in the name of the head of the Korean Red Cross suggesting that working-level talks to prepare for divided family reunions around the Lunar New Year be held at Panmunjeom on Jan. 10. This was three and a half months after North Korea abruptly delayed the reunions that had been scheduled to take place at Mt. Keumgang on Sept. 21, 2013.
Considering that Park proposed using the reunions of divided families as a new opportunity to make progress in inter-Korean relations, the proposal can be viewed as implying the intention of resuming inter-Korean dialogue, as happened in the summer of last year.
[Divided families] [Kumgangsan]
Rodman Announces Players for N.Korea Trip
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has announced which players will compete in a basketball friendly in Pyongyang on Wednesday to celebrate the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, AP reported Saturday.
The list includes Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vincent Baker.
Rodman visited the North three times last year. On his last trip in December, he was unable to meet Kim.
Rodman has referred to his trips to North Korea as "basketball diplomacy," but U.S. media have criticized him for boozing and womanizing with Kim while ignoring rampant human rights abuses in the reclusive country.
'Contraband Equipment' at N.Korean Ski Resort
The newly opened Masikryong ski resort in North Korea is equipped with high-end Western equipment that appears to have smuggled in despite international sanctions, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.
These pieces of equipment are banned from export to the North, raising concerns about the effectiveness of sanctions on the regime.
Chad O'Carroll of NK News, a U.S. news site focusing on North Korea, said new Canadian snowmobiles, Swedish snow-blowers and Italian and German snow cats have all been spotted at the resort.
Pictures in the North Korean state media show at least seven snow blowers produced by Sweden's Areco, each costing US$37,000; three snow ploughs by Italy's Prinoth and Germany's Pisten Bully, which cost anything between $80,000 and $110,000 each; and a "Ski-Doo" snowmobile from Canada's Bombardier Recreational Products and Vehicles, which costs about $10,000, O'Carroll said.
N.Korea Turns to Sports, Tourism for Hard Currency
The North Korean regime has been pouring huge sums into the construction of exclusive sports and recreational facilities for the rich in Pyongyang and major cities in the provinces.
Leader Kim Jong-un has inspected sports-related facilities 25 times so far this year, including the new Mirim Riding Club that opened in Pyongyang on Oct. 20. That was more than three times the visits he made to similar facilities last year.
An outdoor ice rink and a roller skating rink in Pyongyang last year was completed last year, and the Rungna People's Sports Park, Pyongyang Gymnasium, and Mirim Riding Club this year.
Back in July, two new hotels opened in Wonsan, Kangwon Province. The Kalma Hotel has 58 bedrooms and the Saenal Hotel accommodates about 200 guests on 18 floors. A ski resort is under construction in Masikryong in Wonsan.
Since Kim took power, the regime has focused on recreational facilities with an eye on earning hard currency from tourism.
Pyongyang Marathon Mini-Break Itinerary 2014
April 12 – 15/16 (Sat – Tues/Wed)
3 nights in the DPRK plus one on the train
We’re excited to bring the opportunity for amateur runners to take part in the Pyongyang Marathon for the first time in 2014! This race can be run either as a full marathon or as a half marathon. Usually hundreds of local runners take part as well as some elite foreign runners (foreigners have won the last two Pyongyang marathons). Anyone taking part in these tours who wants to watch the marathon instead of take part in it is more than welcome to do so. We have attended this marathon several times over the years so know the good places to be to watch. Also local football matches take place in Kim Il Sung stadium after the start of the race, you can be there for this too!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pyongyang Marathon, also known as Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, is an annual marathon race contested each April in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It is currently categorised as an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
The marathon was held for the first time in 1981 for men, and the women's event was initiated in 1984. The 2009 race was the 22nd event. The competition was opened for international runners again in 2000. The race starts and finishes at the Rungnado May Day Stadium or Kim Il Sung Stadium and runs along the Taedong River. At the 2010 edition of the race, Ukrainian Ivan Babaryka became the first European runner to win in Pyongyang in 24 years. The race in 2012 was held as part of celebrations for the 100 years since Kim Il Sung's birth and featured one of the race's closest ever finishes: Oleksandr Matviychuk and Pak Song-Chol were given identical times (2:12:54 hours), with the Ukrainian guest taking the title.
North Korea photoshop failure again
Posted on : Jan.4,2014 11:59 KST
A comparison of photos of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in North Korea. The top image was released on Jan. 3 by the official Rodong Simun newspaper, showing skiers going down a slope. The skiers images appear awkward and appear to have been photoshopped. The direction of the skiers and the viewing direction of the audience are widely different. The below image shows the same ski slope and was released in August 2013 by the Korean Central News Agency. The position occupied by the viewers in the top photo is shown in the bottom photo to be occupied by a road. (Yonhap News)
Supreme leader Kim Jong-un hands skiers of North Korea a huge lift
Young master takes test ride at country's gleaming new ski resort and orders that opening ceremony be held forthwith
theguardian.com, Tuesday 31 December 2013 19.58 GMT
This undated picture released by North K
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects the ski resort on Masik Pass, Kangwon province. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
It may not have the fir-lined pistes and abundant glühwein of the Swiss resorts of Linden or Wichtracht, close to where Kim Jong-un was educated, but the North Korean leader's new ski resort at least has a ski lift.
In pictures released by the Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday, Kim can be seen riding the chair lift and admiring the empty pistes.
In August, Switzerland refused to supply machinery to North Korea in a £4.5m deal, describing it as a "propaganda" project, but North Korea has managed to acquire two ski lifts.
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Traveller's tales: Eyewitness accounts
“Fieldwork” North Korea: Observations of daily life on the ground inside the country
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 40, No. 2, October 6, 2014.
This paper uses observations collected “on the ground” inside North Korea to argue that everyday life matters when researching North Korea and that one method of carrying out such research is to travel there as a tourist.
Looking out from my guesthouse window in Ch’ilbosan, the beautiful mountain region in the Northeast of North Korea1, I watch a mother and father walk down a country road, each holding a hand of their small son and listening intently to his excited conversation. The tight grip with which the parents hold onto the little boy’s hands reminds me that in a few years’ time he will be leaving his family for mandatory national service of up to eight years in North Korea’s army2. The family’s tanned skin, small frames and simple clothes betray their tough rural life in North Korea. The boy looks around ten or eleven, but North Korean children often appear much younger than their actual age, their physical development held back by chronic malnutrition and poor sanitation.
My trip to North Korea: 13 misconceptions corrected
Western media is full of false reporting
By Marcel Cartier
April 21, 2014
I had the unique opportunity to spend several days in three different parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly just referred to as “North” Korea. This was an exceptionally life-changing experience that challenged many of the pre-conceptions that myself and fellow western visitors who accompanied me from Beijing had going in. Here are some things about North Korea that may surprise you, as many of them surprised me, as well.
1. Americans Are Not Hated, But Welcomed
The Koreans have a very high level of class consciousness, and do not equate the American people with our government. They make no secret of their contempt for U.S. imperialism, but if you say you’re an American, the conversation will usually revolve around culture or sports more than politics. At the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang (think your local library on steorids, with over 30 million books), the most popular CD is The Beatles’ “Greatest Hits”, although Linkin Park is also requested a lot among local youth. The young men seem fascinated with the NBA, and know a lot more about the league than just Dennis Rodman.
North Korea’s capital, with its water parks and new buildings, coddles the elite
In the capital for the first time since 2008, a visitor finds BMWs, Audis and glittering new apartment towers.--
By Anna Fifield September 2 ?
PYONGYANG, North Korea — This is not a city on the ropes.
Cars, for instance. A recent visitor, in the capital for the first time since 2008, found many more of them on the streets — and not just the locally produced “Pyonghwa” brand or Chinese BYDs, but Lexus sport-utility vehicles and late-model BMWs and Audis.
And shoes. Many women are dressing more fashionably, and brightly colored, shiny high heels, often with jewels, appear to be the trend du jour.
Changjon Street, in the heart of the city, near Kim Il Sung Square, is unrecognizable from a few years ago. Rows of round apartment towers line the street. Lit up at night, they are festooned with neon bands, giving them the appearance of giant fireworks. By day, the towers are reflected in the glittering river, making the city look “just like Dubai,” in the words of one government-appointed minder.
Pyongyang, always a showcase city, has become even more of a Potemkin village.
Girls playing on the beach, hair salons and bored commuters: Tourist who took camera inside North Korea expecting to find 'really, really sad people' is shocked to discover a happy country
Singaporean photographer Aram Pan visited North Korea last year
Gained permission for his 360 photography project after sending emails and faxes to North Korean contacts
A BBC Panorama documentary led him to believe he would see lots of starving people
Discovered healthy looking men and women shopping, playing volleyball and clocking off work at 6pm
Believes that 'North Korea needs more friendly interaction with the outside world, even if it is just tourists'
By Sarah Dean
Published: 12:26 GMT, 29 May 2014 | Updated: 16:17 GMT, 29 May 2014
When a man from Singapore had his wish to visit North Korea granted, he braced himself for the scenes of 'barren lands' and 'really, really sad people' that he had seen via a BBC Panorama documentary.
But what he found blew his mind - for all the right reasons.
Inside the communist enclave in 2013, photographer Aram Pan witnessed bustling markets, men and women enjoying themselves at a Western looking water park and miles and miles of crops ready for harvest, shattering all of his illusions about what a holiday to North Korea would entail.
Unlike other tourists who have visited the country, Mr Pan did not have to hide the photos and video he was taking from inside the country - he simply asked for permission.
[Daily life] [Media] [EWA]
Teaching at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology
A video by Helen Kibby from Taranaki who has taught at PUST..
[Education] [EWA] [PUST]
2012 Expedition of Mountains of the Baekdu Daegan in North Korea
Standing in front of Paektusan
In the wet months of June and July, I spent six weeks with the Pyongyang members of Korea-New Zealand Friendship Society travelling around the northern provinces of Yanggangdo, Hamgyeongbukdo, and Hamgyeongnamdo. Our purpose was to attain photographic images of a selection of mountains on the Baekdu Daegan.
The Baekdu Daegan is the main mountain spine of the Korean Peninsula that stretches for about 1700km from Korea’s holy Paektusan Mountain to Hallasan Mountain in southern Korea. I am producing a photographic journal that will highlight this sacred mountain chain – the first time the two Koreas will feature in a book connected by mountain, of which the Korean people have a huge common reverence for.
Tablet PC menus, Volkswagon taxis in Pyongyang
A Korean-American businessman living in the United States could hardly believe his eyes when he visited the North Korean capital of Pyongyang last week.
Cafes in central Pyongyang were filled with not only foreigners but local customers who appeared busy with their tablet PCs and smartphones.
“It was as if I was in the middle of Seoul,” the visitor said, adding that customers were choosing and placing their orders on tablet PCs.
On the second floor of the café was a Korean restaurant serving bulgogi (marinated charbroiled beef) for as high as $70 per serving, but you could not get a table without a reservation.
He also noticed what he believed was an increased number of taxis ? which he estimated at 1,000 ? mostly second-hand imports of Volkswagons which run 24 hours a day at a base fare of 500 North Korean won.
Pyongyang in the summer of 2013
Posted on : Aug.26,2013 15:08 KST
Modified on : Aug.26,2013 15:12 KST
Colored taxies similar to those seen in South Korea on the streets of Pyongyang. The North Korean capital appears to be changing, with more luxury cars and foreign tourists. (provided by Okedongmu Children in Korea)
Director of humanitarian aid group returns from North Korea with impressions of a changing city
Gwon Geun-sool, chairman of Okedongmu Children in Korea, visited the North Korean cities of Pyongyang and Nampo with his colleagues from Aug. 14 to 17. Okedongmu is a NGO that has provided humanitarian aid to North Korean children over the past 17 years.
This article describes Pyongyang in summer 2013 as seen through Gwon’s eyes. The eight members of Gwon’s group, including an employee of Seoul National University Hospital, represented the first aid visit to North Korea by a South Korean NGO since Park Geun-hye was inaugurated as president of South Korea.
It had been five years since Gwon had been to the North, and two years since Okedongmu had sent a representative there.[EWA]
8 Days in the 'Land of Evil'
North Korea Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Victory
by ANDRE VLTCHEK
As the plane – Russian-built Tupolev-204 – was taking off from Pyongyang Airport, I felt nothing, absolutely nothing. The morning fog was at first covering the runway, and then it began to lift. The engines roared. Right after the takeoff I could clearly distinguish green fields, neat villages and ribbons of ample and lazy rivers below the wing. It was undeniably a beautiful sight: melancholic, poetic, and truly dramatic. And yet I felt numb. I was feeling nothing, absolutely nothing.
The Status of Microbrews ... in North Korea
Some travelers look for local beer in new locales, but this featured beer enthusiast went out his way to tailor his visit to North Korea with the sole purpose of visiting microbreweries and tasting beer there. He likens the taste of North Korean beer to American microbrew Anchor Steam. South and North Korea compete in many fronts, but this informed traveler and microbrew aficionado concludes that North Korean beers taste better than the ones in the South. Perhaps South Korea does better in the soju arena.
[EWA] [Daily life]
'Kim Jong-Ale': North Korea's surprising microbrewery culture explored
29 April 13 / by Ian Steadman
UParadise Microbrewery, PyongyangParadise Microbrewery, PyongyangJoseph A Ferris III
For a country that commonly experiences famines, North Korea has a surprisingly large range of beers. And if you're a microbrewing enthusiast, it might be the last country you'd think of visiting on a tasting tour. That's exactly what Josh Thomas did, though, from 30 March to 6 April this year.
Thomas, who lives in Hong Kong and works in advertising as a creative technologist, is a self-confessed lover of all things beer. Though an amateur microbrewer himself, he "might be moving over into the professional realm soon with some mates", he told Wired.co.uk. "I've been brewing beer for a number of years, and love to travel the globe trying beers from different cultures."
[EWA] [Daily life]
Andy Kershaw: Travelog – North Korea
Broadcast on Channel 4 TV as part of the ‘Travelog’ Series.
The One Show – North Korea
Andy on The One Show BBC1 talking about his own experiences of North Korea in the context of recent media hysteria over the country’s hostile rhetoric. Broadcast on the 10th April 2013.
Third-wave Coffee hits the DPRK
Andray Abrahamian | Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 | No Comments »
A very pleasant discovery this March is that there is what you might call a third wave coffeeshop in Pyongyang. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, ‘third wave’ essentially means thinking about coffee similarly to wine: concern for terroir, freshness and individual, hand-made drinks. It’s pretty bougy.) This un-named café is attached to the Pyongyang Hotel View Restaurant. It is the first one in the DPRK with single origin beans, pour-overs and even a small roasting machine, as far as we know.
An American's back-flip in North Korea
Eric Hill executes a back flip on a deck in the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone in this recent photograph. / Courtesy of Eric Hill
By Kim Young-jin
For Eric Hill, an American adventurer with a flair for doing daring deeds, executing a back flip is not difficult. He clears out space, builds momentum with his arms and launches toward the sky.
The flip is part of the 30-year-old’s routine everywhere he goes. He is on a remarkable mission: to visit every U.N.-recognized country in world record time. He also does a handstand and receives a high-five from a local in each place.
Interview: A Capitalist in North Korea (Yes, They Do Exist...)
By Justin Rohrlich Jan 15, 2013 1:16 pm
Though far from becoming a beacon of freedom anytime soon, entrepreneur Felix Abt says that, "by North Korean standards, there has been quite a practical change in society and the economy."
While the world was quasi-agog last week over images of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) chairman Eric Schmidt watching students at Kim Jong Il University utilizing his company’s search engine, it’s a safe bet they won’t be networking with potential employers after graduation.
A small slice of North Korean society may be permitted to access the Internet in limited ways (according to analysts, only a thousand or so of North Korea’s 25 million people can get online; the best most can do is view the country’s walled -- and heavily restricted -- intranet, where state-sponsored news is available). Expats living in-country (a small number of diplomats, NGO workers, and a tiny sprinkling of brave businesspeople; a 2005 census reported 124 foreign nationals residing in Pyongyang, a city of 2.1 million) are, however, able to get online via satellite -- though even they face restrictions.
“LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) blocked me when I listed my North Korean address -- and I was not the only one,” Felix Abt, a Swiss entrepreneur who spent seven years living and doing business in North Korea, tells me.
Abt, co-founder of the Pyongyang Business School, former managing director of the Pyongsu Joint Venture Company, North Korea’s first-ever foreign-invested pharmaceutical enterprise, and author of the new book, A Capitalist in North Korea (Amazon Publishing Services, 2012), was unceremoniously booted from the site in 2009.
“Maybe LinkedIn’s legal department thought it was too risky or something,” Abt, now living -- and working -- in Nha Trang, Vietnam, says. “I don’t know.”
In fact, “as a matter of corporate policy,” LinkedIn does not allow “member accounts or access to our site from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria” under the conditions of international sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. (LinkedIn is not alone; other major tech names such as Google, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) among others, also restrict access to their products from sanctioned countries, though one wonders if Eric Schmidt notified Google’s legal department that its products are being utilized at Kim Il Sung University.)
North Korea: Bringing modern music to Pyongyang
German and North Korean musicians working together
German conductor Alexander Liebreich is one of the few Westerners to have visited North Korea several times. On his last trip, with the Munich Chamber Orchestra in November, he was surprised how much the situation has changed.
"Is there anywhere in the city that we shouldn't go?"
It is wise to ask this question early on in a trip to Pyongyang. I put it to our contacts at the German Korean Friendship society, who had helped organise our trip.
"But… is it OK to just walk around Pyongyang, unaccompanied?"
"Of course. Why wouldn't it be?"
He has established a reputation for pursuing unusual projects. In 2002, he visited North and South Korea together with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie where they gave the first Korean performances of Bruckner Symphony No. 8. He has since returned to North Korea six times
The 2005 documentary Pyongyang Crescendo captures his teaching experiences there
I was astonished. Their only recommendation was that we avoid visiting the train station and resist taking photos of military buildings.
I travelled to Pyongyang with my orchestra to give workshops to students at the University of Music and Dance with the ambitious plan of putting on a joint concert after five days.
An American NGO ... in North Korea
By Jeff Baron
Dec 15 2012, 8:33 AM ET 8
The story of an Arizona rancher who moved to the most oppressive country on earth -- and is attempting to reconcile two countries that have been enemies for decades.
The United States has boots on the ground in North Korea.
Cowboy boots, size 10 Durangos, and they belong to Rob Springs, a Korean-speaking Arizona rancher. Springs and his cowboy boots made their 66th visit to North Korea in November 2012. They've spent nearly three years on the ground there since 1997, traveling to every part of the country.
Springs is a private citizen, and his story doesn't deal with the issues high on our national security agenda -- how the U.S. government deals with North Korea's weapons and human rights.
But it's an important story, because in critical respects it competes against the common narrative about North Korea that Americans -- including those who must deal with its nuclear and missile programs -- get almost daily from the media.
[An excellent article and one well worth reading
Is life in North Korea really not that bad?
Posted by Olga Khazan on November 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm
North Korea is so insular that tales from defectors are some of the few glimpses the Western world gets. Books such as Blaine Harding’s “Escape from Camp 14” or Barbara Demick’s “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea” are filled with former North Koreans’ accounts of innocent people toiling away in gulags, scrounging around train stations for food and living in complete darkness thanks to nationwide energy shortages.
But Felix Abt, a Swiss businessman who lived in North Korea for years, says these and other widely read accounts of life in North Korea tell far from the whole story. In a recent opinion piece on GlobalPost, he makes the incredibly unusual argument that North Korea isn’t as destitute and oppressed as its escapees would have you believe.
North Korea's not as crazy as everyone says
Commentary: Most of what we hear about the Hermit Kingdom comes from defectors, but there's a lot more to the country.
November 1, 2012 00:20
NHA TRANG, Vietnam — A peculiar strand of literature on North Korea has been published in recent years, with the authors drawing heavily on interviews with defectors. Sure, North Korea has been a horrific place with famine and prison camps, but these books reveal a single slice of North Korean society. And it's dangerous that they're taken so frequently at face value when they remain unverifiable.
The stories these authors tell are indeed heart-wrenching. Journalist Blaine Harding, formerly at the Washington Post, wrote a biography of Shin Dong Hyuk in the 2012 book "Escape from Camp 14." Shin was a famous defector born and raised into the brutal environment of a labor camp from where he later escaped.
Unfortunately, there's a big flaw. The defector initially presented his story differently from what he later told to the author. Harden acknowledges in his book that the defector lied to him about his experiences, but decided to believe him anyway.
For seven years, I made a living in the world's most closed off communist country as — of all careers there — a businessman. Now living a comfortable life as an entrepreneur in Vietnam, I have all sorts of stories to tell that contradict these tales.
[EWA] [Defector] [Propaganda]
Welcome to Lenin Disney: North Korea’s otherworldly tourism experience
Posted by Max Fisher on October 16, 2012 at 10:05 am
A British tourist finds empty halls and endless propaganda in Pyongyang. (Thomas Bailey)
The surreality of visiting North Korea begins at customs. Officials in full military dress — and there are a lot of them, judging by this clandestine video shot by a Canadian tourist — announce that anyone carrying a cell phone must surrender it, to be returned on leaving. The experience gets weirder from there, based on the numerous travelogues and reports that have emerged since the country lifted many of its restrictions on American tourists in 2010.
Hotel of Doom, Alcatraz of Fun: North Korea’s finest tourist stays
Posted by Max Fisher on October 18, 2012 at 8:33 am
The Ryugyong Hotel looms above Pyongyang. (AP/Greg Baker)
Should you decide to join the small but growing contingent of Western tourists visiting North Korea every year, you will probably spend most of your time in Pyongyang, and that means staying in one of the few approved hotels. Like most things on the tightly-controlled, propaganda-heavy tours, lodging in North Korea is said to be a uniquely bizarre, but perhaps revealing, experience.
Most tours, which are shepherded by government minders at all moments except while inside the hotel, put visitors up at the Yanggakdo. It’s enormous by North Korean standards, 47 stories, the top of which is a revolving restaurant. Like the thousand or so rooms, the restaurant is mostly empty, all of it an elaborate show of prosperity that doesn’t exist. The hotel is on an island in the Taedong River, which runs through the middle of the city. This allows guests a rare freedom of movement, as minders will allow guests to wander the island unguided. Although, as Lonely Planet‘s guidebook cautions, “don’t even think of crossing the bridge into the city.” This has earned it the nickname among guides, “Alcatraz of Fun.”
A mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
John Hearnshaw. Professor of Astronomy, University of Canterbury, Christchurch NZ
A week in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may not sound like everyone’s idea of a fun holiday destination. I just spent the first week of September in that country and absolutely enjoyed every minute of my time. The Koreans treated me like a celebrity rock star or visiting president, with a large black limousine and chauffeur assigned to me for a week, during which time doors to important people and places were opened to me and every effort was made to please and impress. As the first astronomer ever to visit DPR Korea from another country (except for some Chinese astronomers who went to Pyongyang over 10 years ago), and also one of the few foreign scientists of any type to go there, the Koreans certainly appreciated my visit.
An Englishman in Pyongyang
Global Times | 2012-7-27 19:10:06
By Feng Shu
Michael Harrold currently works and resides in Beijing. Photo: An Saigang
Sitting across a table from the affable, unassuming Briton, one would never guess that he'd spent seven years in a world that is still largely off limits to Western media.
Almost 20 years after he left Pyongyang in 1994, Michael Harrold, the first Briton to work and live in North Korea, is still surprised that his life led him to this mysterious nation, which remains inaccessible to most people even today.
After answering a bizarre job posting upon his graduation from Leeds University in the UK, Harrold, then 25 years old, found himself in Pyongyang in March of 1987 with a new job title: English language adviser. His main duty was to polish English translations of the collected works and speeches by North Korea's then president, Kim Il-sung, and his son and then heir, Kim Jong-il.
Report from Pyongyang
Stewart Lone from the University of New South Wales, has been teaching English in Pyongyang. Here he ponders on the strange discrepancy between the image of the DPRK, life in Pyongyang, and the political system promulgated by our governments, media, and some writers –all ‘honourable men’ in Shakespeare’s phrase – and his experiences.
He is working on a longer description of his time in Pyongyang.
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Photos and Videos
Hanging out at the beach in North Korea – in pictures
Visitors to the DPRK expect to have their every move monitored, so it took travel blog The Velvet Rocket by surprise when they were dropped off at the beach unsupervised for a couple of hours. They set about meeting as many locals as they could, taking photos as they went. The results are a refreshing change from the stage-managed images often seen emerging from the country
Timelapse video offers unique insight into North Korea's capital city
Images of Pyongyang are usually presented through government-issued photos or occasional holiday snaps, but a new tourism film offers a very different view of daily life in the city
theguardian.com, Friday 8 August 2014 21.37 BST
The back-lit Pyongyang skyline.
Pyongyang is one of the few cities in the world that remains an enigma – mainly because so few people outside the country ever see it.
According to estimates, only around 6,000 people per year visit North Korea as tourists, many of whom are confined to the capital city under the strict supervision of the state-endorsed tour companies that take them there.
Images of Pyongyang are usually presented through government-issued photos, holiday snaps from tourists, or journalists given special (and often supervised) access.
However, a collaboration between JT Singh, a branding specialist focused on cities, and Rob Whitworth, a time lapse film-maker, has created a video that offers a rare visual journey inside Pyongyang.
Branded “Enter Pyongyang” and made in conjunction with the North Korean tour company Koryo Tours, the video is presented as “an invitation to explore” the usually hermetically sealed city.
from JT Singh Plus 1 week ago Not Yet Rated
“Enter Pyongyang” is another stunning collaboration between city-branding pioneer JT Singh and flow-motion videographer Rob Whitworth. Blending time-lapse photography, acceleration and slow motion, HD and digital animation, they have produced a cutting-edge panorama of a city hardly known, but one emerging on the visitor’s landscape as North Korea’s opening unfolds.
North Korea was the last country seemingly immune to change—but no longer. Recent years have witnessed mobile phone penetration, a surge in tourists, and even a marathon. Numerous special economic zones have been launched in cooperation with China, Russia, and South Korea, with railways planned linking all countries in the region. “Enter Pyongyang” captures not just the city, but this dynamism and sense of potential
Summer camp in North Korea
Normally reclusive country opens its doors for more than 300 children from around the world, offering video games, air-conditioned rooms and other luxuries that are out of reach for most of its citizens.--
In an undated photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, center, visits Songdowon International Children's Camp in Wonsan, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency via AFP/Getty Images)
Scenes of Daily Life in Korea from the 1900s
See more rare photos of scenes of daily life in Korea, during the early period of Japanese colonial rule, taken by a Japanese photographer.
North Korea is open for Business
Published on 21 May 2014
The 17th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair. Businessmen from China and North Korea come here to exchange contacts and trade.
Videos by Aram Pan on DPRK
The DPRK 360 project
The DPRK 360 project is an independent project that aims to showcase the many aspects of DPRK (a.k.a. North Korea) through photography. All attempts will be made so as not address any past, present or future political issues that may be sensitive. The purpose of this project is to encourage understanding of the country and uncover the mysteries that lay hidden. Through better understanding, fear can be removed and friendships can be made. Most of the images will not undergo any instagram, lomo or artistic filters to make them moody or emotional. There will also be interactive 360 degree panoramic images of places across the DPRK.
This project is an initiative by me (Aram Pan), a Singapore based virtual tour photographer. This project is entirely funded by myself and some sponsors and I'm not paid a single cent to generate any propaganda. I plan to make regular trips to DPRK to photograph more of the country so any sponsorships or grants will be deeply appreciated. I do not wish that my photos or panoramas be used in politically heated articles as it may jeopardize my project. I have made the first baby steps in gaining their friendship and trust so I will not do anything that will disrupt this friendship.
The spirit of this project can be found in a DPRK folk song 'White Dove Fly High'. The white dove is a universal symbol of peace and has been chosen to be the symbol of this project.
In case anyone wonders where my political loyalties are, I love my country of Singapore as it is my dear home and I fully support my current government and its leaders.
personel bio pic Aram Pan has been a photographer since 2003. He went into full time commercial panorama production in 2007 and has produced over 3000 panoramas for real estates, hospitals, tourism, industrial, aerospace and many other industries.
Inside North Korea
A peek into Kim Jong Un’s reclusive regime.
Photos taken by Tim Kearns in Pyongyang, 2006
A collection of photos by NZer Tim Kearns who was teaching at the NZ-DPRK Friendship School in Pyongyang in 2006
Google Streetview Pyongyang-Style
Geoffrey K. See | Monday, January 6th, 2014
Slightly over a year ago, a fellow Singaporean who does visually spectacular work taking 360-degree panoramic photos contacted me asking if we could arrange for him to conduct similar work in North Korea. As we were at that time an all-volunteer team holding down full-time jobs while running our workshops in North Korea on the side, we were unable to help him.
However, the Singaporean, Aram Pan, went ahead and made this vision reality. The outcome is a set of visually stunning panoramic shots of various scenic spots in North Korea. You are able to explore places by spinning around at a point, and even hop onto other spots where Aram has captured images. Do check out his 360-degree photos at http://www.dprk360.com/
DPRK 360 is a photographic project by Aram Pan to capture the essence of North Korea (DPRK) through the use of 360° panoramas, photos and videos.
David Guttenfelder Is TIME’s Pick for Instagram Photographer of the Year
By Ishaan Tharoor @ishaantharoor Dec. 18, 2013Add a Comment
David Guttenfelder / AP
Inside Pyongyang's Masudae Assembly Hall two women wait to lead us down a red carpet to meet Kim Yong Nam, the head of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea, April 10, 2013.
David Guttenfelder is TIME’s pick for Instagram photographer of the year. The veteran photojournalist is a seven-time World Press Photo award-winner. He has traveled the world for the Associated Press, covering wars, elections and natural disasters in over 75 countries. But in 2013, Guttenfelder, the AP’s chief Asia photographer, won over a new audience after he became one of the first foreign photographers to be granted the ability to work in North Korea. And he featured some of his most striking, intimate pictures from the Hermit Kingdom on Instagram.
Inside North Korea
A rare visual tour inside the reclusive and secretive country.
A Cultural Peek Into the Hermit Kingdom
I work as a Chief Mate on U.S.-flagged oceanographic research ships . The voyages and expeditions I have worked brought me from the Yangtze River of China, to the icebergs off Cape Horn South America, Antarctica, and many other points around the world.
My passion is world travel and I have spent the last 13 years working and independently traveling through over 90 countries. I have no home and live out of a backpack (although a girl in Taiwan has me settling down for the first time in my life). I also love to read literature, study history, and make trouble where and when I can.
Traveling to North Korea has been a life changing experience but it’s far from being my only one.
More images from inside North Korea
A rare visual tour inside the reclusive and secretive country.
North Korean Pastoral
The Hermit Kingdom as you've never seen it.
PHOTOS BY ROGER SHEPHERD | MARCH 11, 2013
The Baekdu Daegan mountain range twists its way more than 1,000 miles down the length of the Korean Peninsula, from the sacred peak of Baekdusan on the North Korea-China border to Jirisan in central South Korea. Today, it is choked off by landmines and barbed wire at the demilitarized zone, but once, it was considered the "spine of the nation" -- a source of spiritual energy and strength for the Korean people.
Life on China-N. Korea border
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