California Surf Instructor Takes Surfing to North Korea

Kim Jong Un on a boat (AP Photo / Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)
AP Photo / Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service

A surf instructor who has coached celebrities and billionaires in Hawaii and Orange County is now taking his classes to the beaches of North Korea.

“Whether you’re a billionaire, or you’re homeless, we’re all the same in the water,” surf instructor Lamberto Lo, 40, told the Orange County Register.

With permission he received from North Korea’s government, Lo and a fellow surf instructor friend from China, Nicola Zanella, will launch a 10-day ultimate surf adventure beginning in the Hermit Kingdom’s capital city of Pyongyang this Thursday.

Zanella has his own North Korea Surf Camp and Expedition, and has surfed with locals there in the past. For surfers like Lo and Zanella, surfing in waters and on beaches that have been virtually untouched by the public is a thrill in and of itself.

In addition to his hope that the water sport could help bridge a gap between nations, Lo, who has coached celebrities like Steve Jobs and Bill Murray, told the Register that he will measure his success of the trip based on the response he receives from the insulated country’s mostly impoverished population. “When I get them to smile, I will know there is hope.”

All he is reportedly taking with him is an 8-foot Infinity board, a wetsuit, his smile and an open heart. North Korea does not have a surfing industry nor does it sell surfing materials.

Lo said he was warned against bringing religious material and specifically forbidden from bringing the DVD The Interview with him. The film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco,  is a fictional comedy that centers on an assassination attempt on North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un.

“I will not be bringing The Interview,” Lo reportedly said with a laugh, adding that he does not “want to get thrown in a room somewhere.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz