olympics

North Korea Refuses To Start Olympic Soccer Game After South Korean Flag Is Shown

This is not a good way to start the Olympics. posted on

The mix-up that caused the protest. Twitter: @JeffEisenberg

North Korea and Colombia were scheduled to start a Women’s Olympic soccer match at 7:45 pm local time in Glasgow, but shortly before the game at Hampden Park, a stadium screen identified the North Korean team with a South Korean flag. Either some Scottish scoreboard operator has a great sense of humor, and a terrible understanding of how the Koreas feel about each other, or (and more likely) it was an honest mistake. Regardless of cause, the North Korean team returned to their locker room and refused to play. They have since reemerged and the game has started.

There was some initial speculation that the team was refusing to play because the South Korean flag was simply flying at the stadium, a complaint that would be beyond ridiculous as North Korea would obviously be aware that their neighbors (how’s that for a euphemism?) are competing in the games. But it’s telling that when people on Twitter initially claimed that this was the cause of the team’s frustration no one batted an eye. Even the very respectable Telegraph seemed convinced.

It’s hard to blame the English paper or anyone else who believed that somewhat ridiculous version of the story. North Korea is the same country that once claimed that a foreign leader had called Kim Jong-Il “humankind’s greatest musical genius.” The idea of that government being upset about a stadium flag doesn’t seem so absurd. North Korea, as a country, is in the Tyson Zone.

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