Sunrise at Majon Beach, Hamhung North Korea Uri Tours Surfing North Korea Trip

While tour guides can’t guarantee the surf will be pumping like in Majon Beach in Hamhung, they hope that mapping North Korea’s swells will help grow some sort of surf culture. Photo: Uri Tours

As surfing continues to cement itself as a worldwide sport (over 9 million surfers globally and growing) it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find waves that are truly untouched. But a New Jersey-based travel company wants to change that — by bringing surfers to North Korea.

From Sept. 13 to 20, Uri Tours is offering adventurous surfers the opportunity to be among the first people to ever surf North Korean waves, which are still largely unknown.

The tour will be led by pro surfer and coach of the Chinese National Surf Team, Nik Zanella, who has been tracking storm and weather patterns along the coast for the past year. And although North Korea’s eastern coast is protected by Japan, Zanella thinks that surf conditions will be fine.

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“The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will not become the next Malibu, but it receives enough swells to sustain a vast surf community,” he told the Associated Press, referring to North Korea’s official name. “Our goal is to evaluate the resources and make them available to local surfers in a sustainable and safe way. We are not there to simply go surf, brag about it and then bail.”

Nik Zanella Italian Surfer North Korea Uri Tours

Italian pro surfer and coach of the Chinese National Surf Team, Nik Zanella, has been studying swell patterns and says North Korea has all of the ingredients for an excellent surf adventure. Photo: Uri Tours

As such, the expedition won’t simply be a surf trip, but will consist of the group of adventurers mapping and analyzing the coastline and swells for future expeditions.

The eight-day trip will cost travelers $2,400 (not including the price of roundtrip airfare to and from China, as that’s the only way to get in or out of The Hermit Kingdom) and will take surfers from Pyongyang to Sijung to Hamhung and back.

The expedition has been approved by the North Korean government, which is eager to boost its small but developing tourism sector. And Uri Tours CEO Andrea Lee hopes that by continuing to open North Korea to international tourism, it will help establish some sort of surf culture in the country.

“We want to open the DPRK as a surfing destination on a larger scale,” she told the AP. “The hope is to create a foundation and to pave the way for future surfers.”

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