The Olympics and North Korea

I don’t know about you but I have not been able to get any sleep these past two weeks because of the Olympics. The time difference from London to Korea makes us have to stay up all night to be able to see all of the good games. But, let me tell you. It’s been worth it. South Korea has been doing extremely well, currently ranking 5th. It really is astonishing that a country so small would be doing this well. My parents can’t stop talking about that fact.

But South Korea is not the only Korea that has been doing surprisingly well. North Korea has also been raising a few eyebrows. With four golds and one bronze, North Korea has apparently won the most medals since the 1992 Olympics. And they have even set a new world record for the men’s 62 kg class category in weightlifting. I would say that’s doing extremely well for a country in the state that North Korea is in. Continue reading

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Basketball in North Korea: Brunch with Luke Elie

CNN Luke Elie North Korea Basketball Video

Last month I introduced to you Luke Elie. You might have seen him in the news recently because he’s been quite a sensation since his trip to North Korea. He’s been extremely busy with all of the interview requests from big name news outlets like CNN, but I managed to bribe him into meeting me for brunch. Coming from experience, connections and food will go a long way.

When he asked me what I’d like to ask him in regards to his trip to North Korea, I told him that I had no interest in the politics of it. There is plenty of information out there on the politics of North Korea and its current state and I didn’t think that it would be necessary to add another redundant article to that list. What I was curious to hear about was his personal experience and interactions with the North Koreans he met while there.

I also didn’t want our meeting to be a stiff interview but instead wanted it to be just friends getting together to catch up… which will then result in an article. But let’s not linger on that. We met at Itaewon in Seoul, or the foreigners’ district, on a rainy morning and ate at a restaurant that specializes in brunch foods. We sat down and just started to talk. I told Luke what I had been up to since high school, which is when I last saw him, and he told me his story about how he ended up going to North Korea. I felt like it was a fair deal. Continue reading

As One: more than a movie

 

With the 2012 London Olympics currently in progress, I thought I’d write about sports. Just in time for the international event, a movie was released this past May simply titled As One. It is based on the true story of Korea’s first unified sports team since the division, an event that brought patriotism and hope to the entire Korean Peninsula.

In February 1991, North and South Korean officials met at Panmunjum at the North-South border to make agreements on forming a unified soccer and table tennis team. Everything was decided on at this meeting. The flag was to be the unification flag, a blue Korean peninsula on a white background, and the anthem was to be the famous Korean folk song Arirang. And in April that same year, both the North and South Korean table tennis teams left for Japan to participate in the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships as the first ever unified Korean team since the division of the peninsula. History was in the making. Continue reading

In the News – North Korean official to organizers: No more flag mistakes

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In the News – North Korean official to organizers: No more flag mistakes

By Chris Clark, AP

The North Korean women’s soccer team sings the national anthem before the group G match between Colombia and North Korea.

Chang Ung expressed his disappointment Thursday after theSouth Korean flag was mistakenly displayed on the giant screen before the women’s soccer game between North Korea and Colombia in Glasgow, Scotland, on Wednesday night.

The North Koreans refused to take the field for about an hour before the match went ahead. London organizers apologized.

“This should not have happened,” Chang told The Associated Press. “I am really surprised how … the London Olympic team, the protocol people, didn’t invite someone from the team to check if it is your flag.”

Chang proposed that Olympic protocol officials meet with team leaders before each medal ceremony to check that the correct flags and anthems are being used.

“With 302 medal awarding ceremonies, if something bad happened, that’s damaging for the IOC,” he said. “Beforehand, the protocol people should invite the team leader or captain to come up.”

Asked whether he was satisfied with the apology from London organizers, Chang said: “They apologized to the national team, that’s enough.”

Earlier, speaking during the final session of the IOC general assembly, Chang said the flag incident wasn’t a big political issue but further mix-ups could have negative political consequences for the Olympic movement.

IOC President Jacques Rogge responded that organizers had moved to fix the problem.

“This was a most unfortunate incident,” Rogge said. “I can assure you the organizing committee has taken corrective action so that this will not happen in the future. There is no political connotation in that. It was just a simple human mistake.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron echoed Rogge.

“This was an honest mistake, honestly made. An apology has been made, and I’m sure every step will be taken to make sure these things don’t happen again,” he said during a visit to the Olympic Park. “We shouldn’t over-inflate this episode. It was unfortunate, it shouldn’t have happened, and I think we can leave it at that.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter also downplayed the flag dispute.

“This is such a minor incident which has been settled in the meantime and presented now here also in the IOC,” Blatter said. “I think it is more important to go to sport. As the representative of North Korea said, it’s not a political issue. I am happy about that.”

Original Article 

In the News – (Olympics) N. Korean football match delayed after S. Korean flag displayed

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In the News – (Olympics) N. Korean football match delayed after S. Korean flag displayed

LONDON, July 25 (Yonhap) — A women’s football contest at the London Olympics between North Korea and Colombia was delayed by about an hour Wednesday after organizers mistakenly displayed the South Korean national flag on the scoreboard.

North Korean players refused to take the field after the flag row took place during player introductions at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Organizers apologized for the mishap.

“Today, ahead of the women’s football match at Hampden Park, the Republic of Korea flag was shown on a big-screen video package instead of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea flag,” the organizing committee said in a statement, referring to the two Koreas by their official names. “Clearly, that is a mistake. We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”

The North Korean women’s football substitutes leave the technical area on July 25, 2012, because of a delay before their Group G match against in Colombia in Glasgow. (AP=Yonhap)

The match, the opening Group G action, started an hour and five minutes late. North Korea won the game 2-0.

The flag flap comes amid heightened tension on the divided Korean Peninsula. Affects of strained ties have carried over into the realms of athletics here in London. North Korean officials have blocked South Korean media from covering their athletes’ training sessions before the Olympics, which start Friday.

The Koreas were welcomed into athletes’ village earlier Wednesday. North Korean officials refused to answer any inquiries from South Korean journalists.

Athletes from the two Koreas marched in under one flag at opening ceremonies for the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and even ate and trained together. But inter-Korean relations have deteriorated since, and there have been no talks of sports exchange at the Olympic level since before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Original Article 

In the News – Broadcasting official in North Korea for talks on providing Olympics TV and radio coverage

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In the News – Broadcasting official in North Korea for talks on providing Olympics TV and radio coverage

 

PYONGYANG, North Korea — The chief of Asia’s broadcasting union is visiting North Korea for talks on providing the country with TV and radio coverage of the London Olympics.

Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union President Kim In-kyu arrived Tuesday in Pyongyang for a three-day trip.

Kim is a South Korean national and also serves as head of South Korean public broadcaster KBS.

An ABU official said earlier this month that his agency is expected to provide North Korea’s state broadcaster with Olympic coverage for only a “nominal” fee. The official declined to be named citing the sensitivity of negotiations and didn’t elaborate.

Three South Korean television networks holding Olympic broadcasting rights for the Koreas have entrusted ABU to handle North Korean broadcasting issues.

The opening ceremony for the games is Friday.

Original Article 

In the News – Olympics-North Korea to join first Paralympics in London

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In the News – Olympics-North Korea to join first Paralympics in London

The secretive communist nation sent Paralympic athletes to Beijing for training last week, according to the Tokyo-based Chosun Sinbo newspaper.

The paper, viewed as a mouthpiece for the Pyongyang government, said the athletes will compete in table tennis, swimming and athletics among other sports in London.

The Paralympics take place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9 after the Olympic Games.

North Korea won provisional membership of the International Paralympic Committee in March, the Korea Sports Association (KSA), in South Koreasaid.

“This is the first time North Korea has won the right to participate,” a KSA official told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

A country’s previous participation in international competition helps its case in qualifying for the Paralympics, according to the Chosun Sinbo.

“(North Korean) athletes will gain that qualification through this trip toChina,” it said.

North Korea frequently competes in both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The country has so far competed in eight Summer Games and won 10 gold among a total of 41 medals.

The North will also take part at London Olympics from July 27 to Aug. 12, in women’s football, weightlifting, the marathon, wrestling, table tennis, archery and shooting.

The country has also indicated they could send athletes to compete in other sports such as boxing, judo and diving.

Original article can be found here.

North Korean Refugees in the United Kingdom

Big Ben (Photo Credit: Mohammad Albeloushi/Flickr)

With their number increasing, many North Korean refugees are spreading all over the world after escaping through China and Southeast Asian countries. Many of them, about 25,000 as of 2010, settle in South Korea, where the government supports them throughout their first few years in their new homes. About 100,000 to 200,000 North Koreans are estimated to be in China, waiting to go to a different country, as they will be repatriated to North Korea if the Chinese police arrest them. They also go to different parts of the world: they go to the United States, other Asian countries, and Western Europe. Continue reading