Sport

Ice Hockey

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While not as widely played at volleyball or basketball, or as widely followed as football, ice hockey remains a popular sport in Pyongyang and in other parts of the DPRK.

During harsh winters a lot of local kids learn to skate on frozen lakes and rivers and some of them take this to a higher level by joining hockey clubs and the best of the bets represent the national team in international competitions. Koryo Tours have taken two different groups of high-level amateurs to play against local opposition in the DPRK. First a Canadian/Scandinavian expat team from Beijing who played a strength vs skill tournament against two much faster and smaller Korean teams in 2008, then the Tokyo Canadiens, made up of players from Japan, Canada, US, and elsewhere who also played against two high-level local teams, this time I front of several hundred local fans in an event which was reported in the Pyongyang media. The local players were hungry to interact with the visitors, to pose for photos, to practice skills against teams who played in a different way than they were used to, and in general these were ideal engagement opportunities on a human level. Sports may be the motive for the visit but it is the opportunities to simply spend time with people from the DPRK and for locals there to meet with foreigner visitors that bring some of the best moments and most important memories from such a trip.

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