Thursday, December 09, 2004

Make birdies, not war

Golf Drives Out Military Base in North Korea

"MOUNT KUMGANG, North Korea (Reuters) - In a variation on the swords-to-plowshares theme, North Korea is swapping heavy artillery for golf clubs.

This is not the communist state's latest secret weapon nor a disarmament gesture. It's a new scheme to attract golf-crazy South Koreans to an enclave in the North just across the Demilitarized Zone border.

Due to open in two years, the 7,500-yard Diamond Country Club course will host golfers amid the scenic, mountainous Kumgang resort.

Players of the quintessentially capitalist sport will walk where a communist military base once stood, its heavy artillery pointed at the South. But the only bunkers will be those filled with sand to trap wayward golfers.

South Korea's Hyundai Asan is developing the 18-hole course with investment from Seoul-based Emerson Pacific to help promote tourism in the Kumgang special district. A second, 9-hole, course is also planned.

'It's not the prospect of financial profit I'm in this for,' said Lee Joong-myun, chairman of Emerson Pacific, which is investing $56 million in the project."

The first image that popped into my mind was that old episode of M*A*S*H*, where Henry Blake is teeing off on a makeshift hole that involved driving over an active mine field.

In a perfect world, this project would be a sign that Kim Jong Il has finally gotten it--no need to threaten the wealthy neighbors when they're more than happy to part with their cash through more peaceful means. And one of the Doctor's favorite means of redistributing wealth is by getting grouped with a gaggle of overweight, well-to-do white guys who are convinced that owning the latest Nike driver will make them play like Tiger.


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