Fletcher in the News

Can Frisbee Improve Relations with North Korea? Prof. Sung-Yoon Lee Weighs In


Frisbee Tournament Opens Up North Korea

In August, Ultimate will return to North Korea in what organizers, Beijing-based Koryo Tours, hope will become an annual sports exchange. The company runs other adventure travel packages to the North such as football (soccer), cycling and cricket. Koryo charges 1180 Euros for the 5-day Ultimate tour, which includes stops at North Korean historical sites as well as a chance to teach Frisbee to middle school children. Elusive North Korea is closed to most foreigners.

"Frisbee is like hula hoop, in that we consider it one of the most fundamental and universal things, but there are a lot of people in North Korea who have never seen a Frisbee before," says Koryo Tours' Simon Cockerell.

But some analysts say the money tourists pay to go on these excursions to North Korea only lines the pockets of the ruling regime.

"Such activities have conditioned us to be optimistic and generous to North Korea while North Korea has taken advantage of the outside world's cash," says Lee Sung-yoon who lectures in Korean Studies at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the US.

Lee says he does not oppose these kinds of visits in general, but "it's a bit unrealistic to believe that it will lead to some sort of diplomatic breakthrough," he said.

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