Irvine man visits North Korea to teach surfing

Tuesday, June 7, 2016
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Lamberto Lo of Irvine had the rare opportunity to visit North Korea for a 10-day trip to teach surfing.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Surf instructor Lamberto Lo returned from a 10-day expedition to North Korea with rare photos of the isolated country and incredible stories.

The 40-year-old Orange County resident traveled to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with the blessing of the government and its leader Kim Jung Un, sharing his passion for surfing.

"To do it in a place that's never experienced it or kind of pioneer something, I felt like Magellan out there you know," Lo said.

Lo worked with a friend from the International Surfing Association to gain access to the barely-touched waters. The trip took him to places few outsiders have seen.

"New Zealand of Asia - it was so lush, so green, the waters are pristine," Lo said. "You know, a lot of it is untouched."

Lo's photos and videos show a mix of the country's rarely seen beauty and the well-publicized Communist culture.

He says they were escorted at all times.

"I didn't mind it because in the end they're a person and we can talk stories and you can get to know them as well," Lo said.

One video shows him sharing a light moment, dancing with some of his students.

When asked about the people of North Korea, Lo gets emotional. He's overjoyed by the opportunity to share surf culture with them.

"The water kind of cleansed off a lot of judgments I may have had before," Lo said.

Lo also taught a North Korean man how to be a surf instructor, so the lessons can continue even after he left.

Lo's already back in the water, teaching a friend who was once homeless.

The only sad part about his trip - the fact he can't keep in touch with his new friends.

"You can't even give an email," Lo said. "But I feel in my heart, it's not goodbye. It's I'll see you again."

Lo hopes to make another trip to North Korea in the near future.