Two tourists ‘blag’ their way into North Korean golf tournament
A pair of businessmen from Australia claim to have “tricked” their way into a golf tournament in North Korea, fooling officials into believing they were part of an Australian national golfing team.
Evan Shay and Morgan Ruig, both 28 and from Brisbane, had been visiting China to play in a polo tournament when they decided to apply for the North Korea Amateur Golf Open in Pyongyang.
To their surprise their application was successful, and the pair decided to deck themselves out in official-looking green jackets with badges reading: “Polo and Golf Grand Slam Tour The Orient 2016.”
When they arrived in the country, Ruig says they initially told officials they were just “a couple of Australian golfers”.
“They said ‘you are the Australian team’ and we sort of didn’t say no,” he told Nine News Brisbane, “so we thought we better go along with this.”
Ruig told the Courier Mail he and Shay had been “very nervous” when, on entering the country, they’d had to hand over their passports. “There are stories of people not coming home,” he said.
“It’s a place where you tread lightly but if you go off the beaten track they don’t muck about and lock you up.”
With North Korean officials apparently believing the men were professional golfers, the duo took to the fairways at Pyongyang Golf complex, the country's only golf course – and played a terrible round of golf, coming second from bottom in the tournament, involving 85 players from around the world.
“I think they saw through our story on the first tee when … I stepped up and hit it straight into the drink.” Shay, 28, told The Project.
On finishing their round with very poor scores, their caddy told them they would have brought “great shame on their family.”
Nevertheless, the men said they received a warm welcome and were well treated by their hosts. “It was character building,” said Ruig. “I wouldn’t recommend it to a light-hearted traveller. It was pretty hard core but it was an amazing experience.”
However, it's worth taking their story with a slight pinch of salt. They might indeed have pretended to be golf professionals - but entrance to the tournament is open to "amateur golfers of all nationalities (except South Korean)" - and bookings are open for anyone who wants to follow in the pair's footsteps in 2018.