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Amateur Tournament Set for North Korea
Of all the golf destinations in the world North Korea would be one of the last places to consider on any list. But the isolated nation is nonetheless proceeding with plans to hold the first-ever North Korean Amateur Golf Open April 26-30.
The competition is open to amateurs from around the world willing to spend 999 Euros ($1,039 U.S.) on the entry fee.
The event will take place at Pyongyang Golf Complex, which contains North Korea's only 18-hole golf course. Local legend has it that when Kim Jong iL - the despotic ruler of the Communist nation - opened the par-72 course in 1991 he shot a 38-under-par round that included an impossible-to-fathom 11 holes-in-one.
According to the website for the ironically named North Korean Amateur Golf Open (http://northkoreanopen.com), the entry fee includes travel by train into the country from China, visas, meals and accommodations, as well as a three-day tour of surrounding areas.
The cash-strapped nation has proposed resuming once-lucrative tours of North Korea by South Korean tourists, but Seoul rejected the offer, saying the North must first return South Korean-owned buildings that were confiscated at the Pyongyang resort.
"The North Korean government has proposed the amateur event," Qu Chengguo, vice president of Chinese travel agency Dandong CTS, told the AFP news agency. "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."
The course west of Pyongyang is the only golf facility managed by North Korea. It's open only for the nation's privileged few and foreign visitors.
The country's other course at Mount Kumgang resort was open to South Korean and foreign tourists. But Mount Kumgang's golf club has been abandoned since South Korea suspended cross-border tours in July 2008 after a North Korean soldier killed a Seoul housewife who strayed into a restricted zone. The jointly-run resort once earned the impoverished nation millions of dollars a year.
More information for interested tournament participants in the tournament can be found the website of London-based Lupine Travel (http://www.lupinetravel.co.uk).