Special to WorldTribune.com
EAST-ASIA-INTEL.com Wednesday, June 16, 2004
South Korea’s Pyeonghwa (Peace) Motors Corporation plans to stage an inter-Korean golf game next month in the North’s capital city of Pyongyang, company officials say.
“We have agreed with North Korean authorities to hold a friendly golf competition between the two Koreas from July 30 to Aug. 5 at a golf course in Pyongyang,” said an official at Pyeonghwa Motors, which has started a business venture in North Korea.
Fortunately for all entrants, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il will not be playing. If the official government media is to be believed, Kim is easily the greatest golfer, the world has ever seen.
Pyongyang media say Kim enjoys golf, having shot multiple holes-in-one during his first try at the game. He reportedly aced five holes and finished 38 under par on the golf course. The “Dear Leader” routinely shoots three or four holes-in-one per round, the government-controlled media reported.
The event, touted as a “golf game for peaceful unification of Korea,” will be attended by South Korea’s top 15 female golfers, including LPGA players, 30 businesspersons and 20 singers and movie stars, the official said.
From the North’s side, eight female amateur players and dozens of government officials as well as foreign diplomats in Pyongyang would also take part in the friendly game, he said. “They will compete in a 36-hole [competition] for the prize money of 100 million Won ($86,000),” the official said. Park Sang-Kwon, the company’s president, was in Pyongyang to work out the details, he said.
North Korea has only one 18-hole golf course in Pyongyang. The North’s media have said the 7,000-meter (7,700-yard) course is “in full line with international standards.” The course, built in the mid-1980s by North Korean businessmen based in Japan, “bustled with Pyongyang citizens, overseas Koreans and foreigners,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. Surrounded by a forest and a scenic lake, golfers can enjoy collecting plants and boating during breaks, it said.
“The course is not bad. North Koreans seemed to keep it well-managed,” said a Pyeonghwa Motors official who has frequently traveled to the North.
Kim Dong-Wook, general secretary at South Korea’s Golf Association, said golf is almost nonexistent in the North. “We believe there are no professional golfers,” he said. Outside their country, North Korean golfers have yet to make their mark.