Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Mt Kum Gang NK
When is a golf tournament not just a tournament? When it's in
. North Korea
Mao Zedong's 'ping-pong diplomacy' thawed Chinese-US ties. Could Kim Jong-il's 'golf club diplomacy' do the same for North Korean-US relations?
Call it "golf club diplomacy." North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s latest charm offensive involves a golf tournament, open to one of his country’s rarest sights: outsiders.
Mr. Kim may well be taking a page from 1971. That's when Mao Zedong, then leader of Communist China, famously invited American table tennis players to his country for a series of matches against local stars of the game. The move, later labeled “ping-pong diplomacy,” led to a thaw in Chinese-US relations.
North Korea's latest attempt at detente – the use of golf to entice a new branch of tourists – represents a departure from decades in the shadows as a notorious recluse. Desperate for foreign currency amid a cut in aid and reportedly crippling food shortages, the unlikely quest for foreign visitors, say observers, will mean striking a balance between tapping the market of adventure tourists and ensuring the visitors gain as little access to locals as possible.
As for the kind of experience tourists can expect? Ian Garner, tournament director, paints a more surreal picture of the course environment.
“The golf course wasn't designed as well as courses on the amateur circuits in Europe and