Ananti Golf Resort has been the great dream of sports and tourism union of the two Koreas. A dream that cost $74 million and lasted not even a couple of years. North Korea’s only luxury golf resort was closed due to political clashes and will probably never reopen.
What did he look like and what is his sad story?
North Korea’s first and only luxury resort
TheAnanti Golf Resort-or rather, its empty shell-is located on the east coast of the Korean peninsula, washed by the Sea of Japan. Since it is not far from the South Korean border, it would be an ideal tourist destination for South Koreans who want to pop over to the other side. In addition, it is located in the heart of the Kumgangsan tourist region, designed especially for foreign tourists.
The entire property covers about 400 acres in a unique natural setting, straddling mountains and cliffs that plunge into the ocean. To find something like this elsewhere, you have to look among the
Vietnamese golf courses
. The golf course alone is about 6,900 meters long and boasts holes with breathtaking views, as well as one of the longest holes in the world.
In addition to having a golf course worthy of a dream, the Ananti has a five-star hotel with a spa and natural hot springs. In short, everything you need to make luxury-loving golf addicts happy.
A promising start, between tourism and racing
TheAnanti Golf Resort opens in May 2008 and all is well, at least at first. Visitors are there and they are many, mostly from South Korea. Indeed, the South Korean brothers are taking advantage of this to enjoy a relatively inexpensive luxury, thanks to the favorable exchange rate.
As the weeks go by, more and more tourists begin to arrive from other Asian countries as well. There are tours that stop at Ananti Golf Resort, people who come and go in the day. They are even beginning to organize tournaments to be held at the new North Korean resort.
The Kumgang Ananti NH Open is held right at Ananti and is a success, despite some quirks given by North Korean restrictions. In fact, it is played without an audience, due to the country’s dictatorial policies: only the judges, golfers and caddies are on the course.
In retrospect, perhaps this is the first clue that things are going the wrong way.
Why did Ananti close down?
In March 2010, 53-year-old Park Wang-ja is in North Korea for vacation, as she is every year. Only this time she is killed during a military attack, the nature of which is unclear. The woman is said to have entered a military area adjacent to the beach, but nothing is known for certain.
South Korea asks to be allowed to send some of its agents to investigate. North Korea refuses and hopes for tourist appeasement between the two nations sink. In fact, the South Korean government restricts travel to the twin country, saying that “North Korean authorities cannot guarantee the safety of their tourists.”
The fate of the Ananti Golf Resort is sealed. North Korean authorities kick all South Korean employees of the resort out of the country and close it indefinitely. They say they will reopen it when everything is resolved.
In 2020, North Korea’s first and only luxury golf resort is still closed.
Will it ever reopen?
For years, North Korean authorities assured that the facility was in good condition, ready to open as soon as possible. In November 2019, Kim Jong-un visited the entire resort and gave his grim response: according to him, the area should be demolished and rebuilt from scratch, including Ananti Golf Resort.
So there seems to be no hope: the dream of the two Koreas united by a passion for golf died along with the resort.