What people are saying about the Friendship League...

Aaron

Aaron Geddes

“The hockey trip to the DPRK was a great experience that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to chance to play hockey somewhere they would never expect. After spending nearly 12 years in Seoul, I jumped at the chance to go play hockey in Pyongyang.

From the moment we stepped on the ice, we knew we were there to compete and play our best. The games were fast and the DPRK team was tough to keep up with. It was a great experience to play against and then with them, and being able to interact and chat with the players is something I will never forget.

From the train ride in from the Chinese border to the bus ride to the DMZ, and everything in between, it was exactly the experience I was hoping for. It’s a great opportunity to see a little of what life is like in the DPRK. If I had the chance, I would definitely do it again.”

– Aaron Geddes

Alex

Alex Frecon

“Kenya was my 4th trip with the Friendship League, and it was an adventure from start to finish. From sharing the ice with the Kenyan National team to exploring the countryside, I felt that I got a perspective of the country that I otherwise wouldn’t. The Friendship League has taught me that there really is a difference between exploring a county and simply “being a tourist.”

I can’t say enough good things about this organization, the work that they do, and the experiences they provide. I would 100% recommend this trip to anyone and everyone.”

– Alex Frecon

Chris

Chris Colucci

“The ice hockey trip to the DPRK was exceptional in so many ways. I have long wanted to see the DPRK with my own eyes, and the opportunity to do so while spreading friendship through ice hockey was a once in a lifetime experience.

The North Korean national team played a skilled and structured game. During the practices and games, it was great interacting with the players despite the language barrier because we all spoke the language of hockey. Sports truly can break down any barrier. Visiting the DMZ from the DPRK side was a powerful experience, and offered a perspective few people know or have seen.”

– Chris Colucci

Cory

Cory Davis

“Finding myself halfway across the world in a country which sees few visitors and playing a sport most of us didn’t know existed in this part of the globe—indeed, a trip that will not soon be forgotten. The camaraderie shared by tourists coming together to form a hockey team made for positive experiences both on and off the ice. That camaraderie quickly spread beyond our locker room to include those wearing the other jerseys as we shared the ice, dinner, drinks, and a lot of laughter with the Turkmen team, fostering a spirit of good will and friendship. The tour guide was exceptional and the agenda presented was full, but relaxed and flexible, which prevented the rushed feeling other guided trips often run into. Playing an impromptu bit of soccer with a local boy at the market and standing quietly next to a Muslim cemetery in the remote hills of the countryside are just two of the many moments which made this trip so memorable and which define the opportunities the Howe International Friendship League provides.”

– Cory Davis

Henry

Henry Lee

“The 2019 Kenyan tour was my first with the Friendship League. These tours provide an opportunity for a mutual exchange of ideas, awareness, and understanding. The tour’s scheduling, content, and tone all reflected this primary purpose. Equally important, the teammates you meet exhibited this ethos, and they all lead unique multi-dimensional lives outside of hockey. The local fans also treat you like rock stars. It was a lifetime experience in many ways.”

– Henry Lee

Jordan

Jordan Ashton

“After living in South Korea for three years, I had always wanted the opportunity to experience the DPRK first hand. Through this Sports Exchange, I was able to do just that.

Through a shared passion of hockey, myself and a group of outgoing expats were able to bond, practice and play against the DPRK National Team. Everything about the event was exciting, from the traditional music played between face-offs to barreling down the long tunnel into the National Ice Rink which featured giant portraits of the leaders in full view.

It was easy to tell that the DPRK team was very excited to have us. They took practice and games seriously and used every opportunity to compete with us and have fun. I would certainly recommend this trip to anyone who loves the game and has an urge to visit the DPRK. Some people can say they have visited the DPRK, but how many of them can say they rocked up with their hockey gear…”

– Jordan Ashton

Matt

Matt Wettstein

“The trip was great, combining the best of sport and tourism. I loved the train ride from Dandong to Pyongyang, seeing the landscape and watching people going about their business. Visiting the national museum and the DMZ while talking to high-ranking officers offered historical perspective and insight.

During the official game, I was given plenty of ice time, although I had a hard time keeping up with the pros. Training sessions were an amazing experience, especially when the foreign and the Korean players mixed. It allowed us, regardless of language barriers, to make some friends and share our passion for hockey.

The Koreans are a proud people with a unique culture, and I hope that further exchanges can generate mutual understanding and tolerance.”

– Matthieu Wettstein

Miki

Miki Lahtinen

“I’ve always wanted to visit DPRK since it’s the most unknown and isolated country in the world. When I lived in Beijing, I was one step closer to make it and when I heard about the opportunity to visit DPRK and play ice hockey there, I was sold!

The sightseeing there was, I assume, quite the same as every traveler will see there. It surely was fascinating to actually see those places and also to see how local people live their lives. Probably the most memorable places we visited were DMZ, where you can see the two Koreas divided, and the Military Museum (not sure about the name), where you get the opinion to the Korean War from the other participant’s perspective.

The best part of the journey was that it wasn’t only about sightseeing but also playing ice hockey there. I love ice hockey and it felt so unreal to play with and against the National team of Korea and feel the audience under the icons of the leaders at the rink. Honestly, I was a little surprised about the level of the local players over there and how well they played together. They were also very friendly after the matches and now it’s proven: ice hockey doesn’t have borders! I truly enjoyed to play against the Korean National Team and I can proudly say right now that I’m probably the first (I guess not the last) Finn who has scored couple of goals against the Korean National Team.

That was an amazing trip to DPRK and I can warmly recommend this to everybody! This kind of opportunity won’t be found every day; I’ll remember these memories for the rest of my life!”

– Miki Lahtinen

Sam

Sam Goodwin

“I recently became one of the few people in the world to visit all 193 countries. Completing this journey may not have been possible without the Friendship League. As one of the best travel partners I’ve ever experienced, they played a meaningful role in my journey, facilitating unforgettable visits to both North Korea and Turkmenistan – two off-the-beaten-path and fascinating destinations. After compiling a list of my top travel memories, I ranked my last day in North Korea as number two, following only the experience of landing in my 193rd country! Coaching the North Korean National Hockey Team was the center point of our trip to the country. On the final night, we mixed up the teams giving our visiting group of guys and the local players the opportunity to skate with and against each other. I played most of this game with two local line mates. Aside from hockey, I probably could not have had less in common with them given my perspective on the world and the life I’ve been fortunate to live. However, once that puck dropped, our relationship ran like a Swiss watch. We knew exactly where to go, what to do and how to best work together to score goals. Nobody cared about political discrepancies, demarcation lines or nuclear weapons. We built a magical bond through the game of hockey and this remarkable demonstration of humanity will forever be one of my best memories from anywhere in the world. A huge thanks to the Friendship League for making it possible!”

– Sam Goodwin