Mar
13
2011
Irish Documentary Filmmakers Head to… North Korea?
By Conor Nagle under General

Kim Jong-Il: golf was no challenge

In a development that shows the lengths to which young Irish people currently have to go to secure work, two student documentary filmmakers (and an English colleague) have secured the right to record proceedings at a North Korean golf tournament. Life behind the veil of secrecy that surrounds this Orwellian dystopia may be many things– unimaginably harsh, monotonous– but I always suspected ‘golf crazy’ wasn’t one of them. Not so, say DPRK officials! 

And I suppose they have a point. North Korea is home, after all, to Kim Jong-Il, Dear Leader of the nation and greatest golfer of all-time. He managed to shoot a round of thirty-four, that’s thirty-eight under par(!), on the occasion of his first ever dalliance with the game. Very few can count golf and totalitarian dictatorship among their personal talents.

So, how exactly did the enterprising students happen upon this golden ticket to the documentary film big-time? Well, by asking politely, of course. (Your parents were right!) Dermot Gilleece in the Irish Independent has the full story:

“I understand that we will be only the fourth documentary team ever to gain this sort of access,” said Wilson, a 30-year-old native of Shannon. “Philip got his entry visa through the North Korean embassy in London, but being Irish, Alan and I will have to pick up ours in China, en route.”

It all stems from the initiative of Dylan Harris, owner of the Lupine Travel company in Wigan. His speciality of organising trips to unusual locations has brought clients to such places as Chernobyl and Serbia. Yet when someone suggested a golf tournament in North Korea, his initial reaction was: “No. Not a chance.”

Still, an innate sense of adventure prompted Harris to give it a go. And, to his immense surprise, the North Korean authorities agreed to the proposal. So it is that on April 26-30, as part of a trip to the world’s most closed society, more than 30 amateur golfers from the UK, United States, Europe, China and Australia, will play North Korea’s only public golf course in the capital Pyongyang.”

That’s some interesting use of the term ‘public course’ you’ve got there, North Korea.

[Thanks to Shackelford for the heads-up]

Conor