North Korea opens up for golf tourney

Cash-strapped North Korea is inviting foreign amateur players

for its first ever golf tournament on a course used by all-powerful

leader Kim Jong Il, travel agencies said Thursday.

The golf open will take place in April, London-based Lupine

Travel said on its website. The price of a five-day tour from April

26 is $1,039 per person.

“The North Korean government has proposed the amateur event,” Qu

Chengguo, vice president of Chinese travel agency Dandong CTS, told

AFP.

“We still need to sort things out with North Korea. As far as I

know, if there’s no change, the competition will open as planned,”

Qu said.

Dandong CTS and Lupine Travel both offer tourist trips to the

isolated country.

The event will be held on a golf course where Kim supposedly

recorded 11 holes-in-one for a 18-hole score of 38, according to

Dandong CTS.

The par-72 course west of Pyongyang is the only golf course

managed by North Korea for its privileged few and foreign

visitors.

The country’s other course, in the scenic Mount Kumgang resort,

is for South Korean and foreign tourists.

The golf club in the resort has been abandoned since South Korea

suspended cross-border tours in July 2008 after a North Korean

soldier shot dead a Seoul housewife who strayed into a restricted

zone.

The jointly-run resort once earned the impoverished communist

state millions of dollars a year.