Young women rehearse marching in North Korea

By the left...young women army cadets go through their paces in Pyongyang

I’ve recently returned from an extraordinary journey into North Korea, possibly the world’s most secretive country, although the physical danger is nothing like that of Iraq or Afghanistan.

My ‘entry ticket’ was as a competitor in the first-ever amateur golf tournament to be staged in the country. Oh yes, I do play golf (badly) and North Korea does have a course, even though it’s reserved for the elite and diplomats.

You can read the full account in my story in the Daily Mail ( but in summary I left with mixed feelings. I hadn’t been shown everything I wanted to see, that was for sure, and the people were generally shy of Westerners like myself. They obviously weren’t used to seeing many, or any.

But I’d like to return again one day and see more of the way of life (but minders will be present, just as they were this time) as five days, interrupted by a golf tournament (at which I embarrassed myself) was not nearly long enough, even though I was given an extraordinary insight into many aspects of life there.