North Korea Open for Surf

Your dream of hitting North Korea's beaches has come true

| posted on August 19, 2014
"Sir, looks like a fun right in that cove over there." Kim Jong Un and the boys cruise the coast.

“Sir, looks like a fun right in that cove over there.” Kim Jong Un and the boys cruise the coast.

Good news. According to the Pyongyang Times, North Korea’s tourism authorities are offering surf tours to international guests during “this present bathing season.” The first tours ran from July 28th through August 6th. So far three areas are open for tourists: Songdowon, Lake Sijung, and Majon. A quick search of Google Earth shows that these are indeed coastal communities, and that the Sijung area could probably serve up some fun sandbar action. Songdowon is tucked into a sheltered bay but the surrounding area is dotted with setups.

Unfortunately North Korea is completely blocked from Pacific swell energy by Japan and parts of Russia. But local typhoons in the Sea of Japan can certainly get North Korea rocking and rolling. Also, it gets really, really cold in North Korea, with the northern border reaching awfully close to the frozen edges of Siberia. And, unless North Korea has radically changed their policies toward tourism, the beaches are heavily monitored and access is strictly controlled by the military, with visitors usually allowed to frolic on very specific patches of beach. So if the allowed surfing zone is flat, you’re pretty much screwed. You’re not gonna be renting a car and cruising around looking for undiscovered surf, is what I’m saying.

North Korea has been considering ways to juice up their tourism industry, and this is likely a feeler into whether or not surf tours can help. Right now, Koryo Tours and Uri Tours will take you into North Korea, but you’ve got to get yourself to Beijing first—the only way to enter the Hermit Kingdom is through China.

Is it worth it? No idea. Probably not. You tell us.

  • Jaydog

    If it comes with a submarine ride, I am in!

  • Max

    The caption is gold

  • Julie Nelson

    It was to totally worth it! Beach break barrels and head high at Pioneers surf spot.

    • Johnny Bee

      And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to play a little basketball game with Denis Rodman and Kim Jong

    • shane

      I too was in that first group to go. Surfing north korea is a totally different heart. The sand bar action is there but you do need that typhoon to give it that push. Ju ju, stevie, a few others and i did score but the over all experience came from how open minded we went into this. We are surfers with big hearts and we are surfers giving back. I see surfing as a sport of peace one of the locals said.let us introduce surfing to the world so we may spread peace. Pioneer’s was a fun break.

      • Bonzer

        pics….where are the pics?

        • shane

          On the surfing the nations website

    • Bonzer

      sounds like a shill to me…

      Sea of Japan has a maximum width of 600 miles. Not generating much fetch there by anybody’s standards. Mediterranean is much bigger and deeper and I haven’t seen many barrels there. Typhoons? Check out the tracks, they hit Japan and turn north west, and even the few that come up the China coast generate so much wind, it’s not surfable.

      “Is it worth it? No idea. Probably not. You tell us.” not even close

      Pioneers surf spot? hang ten comrade

      • Warren Lauzon

        Pretty obvious that some are shills, as the accounts they posted under no longer exist.

  • ramubay

    LOL, no way, that fat fart.

  • slayer
  • Freedom Frys

    Kim Jong Un SUP’s

  • Badkarma

    James Bond surfed North Korea!!

  • Stevie Lujan

    I was with Julie. Worth it is an understatement. As a surf publication you should be championing and celebrating surf pioneering at all costs.

  • Greg Howell

    Hey I don’t care how uncrowded it is, I moved from Melbourne to the Gold Coast because of the cold water 🙂

  • CaptainB

    Dude It’s not Sea of japan. It is East sea(of korea)

    • Tony

      It’s Sea of Japan (East sea of Korea), Same thing. I don’t care which.

    • Bonzer

      Eat China Sea and Sea of Japan both surround Korea. Both have virtually no surf. Unless you want to surf the tidal bore in Hangzhou China next month, Trying to put something together if any one is up for it, At least I will see how well connected my “guanxi” is there.

  • Stevie Lujan

    I tried to tell you if I thought it was worth it. Not sure what I said that you felt wasn’t shareable?

  • Tpjn Njpt

    my dreams are coming true

  • Gloria A Gonzales

    Just got back from there and it’s totally worth it. Over head high waves, fun for body boarders, new surfers and those who like to get barreled. Loved it! I’d go back. Loved the KITC tour group as well Very friendly and loving guides. I even taught them some hula. AuntyGlo

    • rowan42p

      U r so a korean puppet

      • Gloria A Gonzales Moore

        Actually, I’m Mexican.

    • no name

      our son, chris, told us about your hula, said it was awesome.

    • Gloria A Gonzales Moore

      There are more photos of waves and videos at my site. feel free to reply with your email. I would be happy to share our trip. Or just go here.

  • Tony

    800 Japanese people are suspected to be kidnapped and missing in N.Korea after WW2. I can not surf and enjoy thinking of the missing people and their families.

    • bongo fury

      then don’t forget the recent history of Indonesia… you won’t be going there either!

    • Gloria A Gonzales Moore

      I didn’t go thinking about this, I just wanted the chance to touch a heart, that could touch a nation that could change. Who will make a difference if we just ignored it?

  • Brenda Allen

    Worth it? It might be worth remembering that these tourists are contributing to an economy that also supports all sorts of human rights abuses – prison camps, torture, wide-spread starvation, random disappearances, freedom of expression, freedom of movement…not to mention nuclear armament! The bad stuff doesn’t go away just because there are some fun resorts/waves!

    • guest commentator

      kinda like going to Israel…

      • Dakahuna

        Dumb Socialist comment.

        • HulaFree

          Surf around the world! I would go to North Korea, I don’t believe all the ship that capitalism sells on its the.
          USA is the psycho’s land, don’t judge other countries and stop your empire wars.

    • wuzupwiththat

      The article is about North Korea, not the USA: home of GetMo and the only nation to use nuclear weapons, twice.

      • SaltH20

        As expected, the obligatory “Evil USA” comment. You should go to Human Rights Watch .org and take a look at North Korea before you take a walk down that comparative trail.

  • Zach

    You should do a story on the Hawaii non-profit that actual ran the surf tours! Aloha goes to the most closed nation on the planet.

  • TheEverlastingGOPStoppers


  • Shane McFarlane

    if the surf’s shit, there’s plenty of slopes to ski on

  • G.S.

    Here is what the surfer group that went to North Korea was doing. The very last clip answers the “why?” question.

    Whether you’d go there or not, I think we should all agree that doing whatever we can to promote peace and unity in the world is a good thing. If we can use surfing as a way to do so, all the better right?

    • Robby

      Really cool to watch… Some of the better beginners I’ve ever seen. Spreading the Aloha. Would love to get involved.

  • RaTard

    I’m so sick and tired of all the negative banter about North Korea. I was also on the first trip and it was the best ever. I was the only person picked for the private session with Kim Jong and he rips really hard with the best style. He’s a mix of Kong, Lopez, and Slater with the blase’ of a young Richie Collins. Better step your game up the “free” world as this is the real deal.

  • Me

    ..or you can go to Indonesia and ignore their daily killings in West Papua and their atrocities in East Timor,killing Orangutangs etc while destroying forests/jungle for palm oil and garden furniture etc etc etc.

  • Francis Crunchie Kelly

    So speaks America..

    • Wide Angle

      It’s human nature, you would have done it too.

    • Wide Angle

      Camp 731, hell ships, bicycle camp, bataan death march, comfort women, beheadings etc etc etc… do you also spend your time judging and demonizing the ones who participated in those horrible things bigot?

    • Wide Angle

      So speaks the sore loser.

  • Sojourner Truth

    Just watch out for floating bodies.