Australians Morgan Ruig and Evan Shay didn't 'trick' their way into a North Korean pro golf tournament

Two Australians who claimed they conned their way into a pro golf tournament being held in North Korea were conning the media instead.

Yesterday, media outlets from Nine News to Golf Digest reported that two Brisbane men fooled officials in North Korea into thinking they were professional golfers, enabling them to compete in an official golfing event.

They came up with the idea, they claimed, over a long lunch while they were in Beijing, playing a polo tournament.

A cleverly worded email was all it took for the Brisbane men, named Morgan Ruig and Evan Shay, a real estate agent and a builder respectively, to gain entry to the 2016 North Korean Amateur Golf Open.

The men then went about organising official blazers for the event, hastily assembled by a local tailor in Beijing, with the inscription "Polo and Golf Grand Slam Tour The Orient 2016" together with the Australian emblem.

On arriving in North Korea, apparently the country's officials "rolled out the red carpet", chauffeuring the lads around Pyongyang on official tours.

"It was fantastic. We were well looked after, the people were lovely and kept us well fed and full of beer!" Ruig reportedly told CNN.

However, it became apparent the Brisbane men weren't cut out for golf from the first tee. By the tournament's conclusion, the only competitor they finished ahead of was the teenage daughter of another country's ambassador.

One would think that North Korean officials would not be amused, but apparently they "saw the funny side" of the joke. Funny, since North Korean officials aren't known for their sense of humour.


That was probably because they weren't officials at all, but members of a UK tour company called Lupine Travel, who were hosting the event.

Entrants don't even have to know how to play golf. Anyone can book a ticket on the tour which the company hosts annually.

That would also explain why the pair were wined and dined and taken care of, as the all-inclusive booking included three meals each day.

And as for the blazers? Well, they needn't have bothered with those either. One pair of newlyweds played in their wedding outfits, which was posted all over the company's Facebook site.

North Korea is probably happy with the publicity. Last year, tourism officials said the country wanted to attract 2 million tourists a year by 2020. It currently welcomes just 100,000.

"Contrary to popular belief, the process of obtaining tourist visas for North Korea is actually very simple," said Dylan Harris from Lupine Travel earlier this year.

"The only requirement is that you are booked on a pre-planned tour with two North Korean guides for company."

The guides have to be specially appointed by the country's Ministry of Tourism and associated with one of the three travel services based in the capital, Pyongyang.

Even those travelling alone on a private tour must be accompanied by two guides.

It is, however, not possible to travel independently in North Korea.

See also: What it is really like to travel in North Korea