If North Korea is indeed stuck in a Cold War mentality, let’s hope it includes the classic 60s beach party, at least for the new Surf ‘n Beach Summer tour launched by Young Pioneer Tours to the “stunning and gorgeous beaches of Wonsan and Hamhung located on the east coast.”
Judging by the happy frolicking people in the promotional photos—playing volleyball, waving and smiling, sunning under red umbrellas, fishing in the sunset and scrawling messages in the golden sand— the scene does look ready for Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon to pop in, and the lush green hilltops in the background make it appear nothing short of cinematic.
Beyond the coast, the tour includes a hiking and camping trip up the Mt. Kumgang, “a dip” into Pyongyang, plus visits to the Hungnam Fertilizer Factory (the biggest fertilizer factory on the east coast) and DMZ (“with a friendly KPA officer”), lots of Korean BBQ dining (dog soup is 5 euros extra), and a stay at Koryo Hotel, made “famous” by Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters.
The tour promotes itself as ideal for the “veteran” traveler to North Korea, which is strange considering how few are even allowed in, let alone to venture more than an arm’s length away from their guides. Although the country does not publish tourism numbers, estimates say about 6,000 Westerners visit per year, a significant increase from the just 700 or so a decade ago. In fact, this Surf ‘n Beach Summer tour shows further proof that North Korea’s efforts to promote tourismmay indeed be working.