SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- While London hosts the Olympics this summer, a different competition will get underway on the other side of the globe. But this series has no flaming torches, gold medals or even referees. The game is Ultimate Frisbee, and the venue is the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
The "Peace Tournament" is set for August 11 and is sponsored by Beijing-based Koryo Tours. The rules of Ultimate, as the sport is known for short, are a mix-match of basketball and American style football, in which one team attempts to huck, or throw, a plastic disc to a receiver in the other team's end zone.
Pyongyang is perhaps better known for its gymnastics spectacular, the Arirang Mass Games, in which tens of thousands of performers pay tribute to the nation's leaders. But this is not Ultimate's first appearance in the reclusive nation.
The unique locale is what got long time Ultimate enthusiast Eric Fish involved in the first Pyongyang tournament last year.
Participants of 2011 Pyongyang Ultimate Tournament throw frisbees with North Korean school children. (Courtesy of Sam Baker)
"I couldn't pass it up," said Fish, 27, a native of Missouri who studies journalism in Beijing and claims to have a "morbid fascination" in socialist and communist states. "There is a tendency for bad news (about North Korea), because that's what the media covers. I assumed there was more nuance to it."
Fish was not disappointed. He was joined by about 60 other players, comprised of Western tourists, members of Pyongyang's expat community and around 15 North Koreans that work for a state-run tourism agency.
"I was amazed. They had never played frisbee before," he said. "They picked it up pretty quick."
North Koreans were enthusiastic, Fish says, recalling one young woman kicking off her high heels to get in on the game played in a park near Pyongyang's Mount Taesong South Gate. There were dramatic diving catches and plenty of high-fives amongst the participants, who were subbed in and out on mixed nationality teams. But the disc had to be grounded once in what can only be described as an only in North Korea moment.