Current Magazine

North Korean Flag Blunder Kicks Olympic Games off with Diplomatic Row: Worst Mistake Ever?

By Periscope @periscopepost
The wrong flag: North Koreans angry over South Korean flag in pre-match video. The wrong flag: North Koreans angry over South Korean flag in pre-match video.

The first day of the London Olympic Games got off to a rocky start on Wednesday when the North Korean women’s football team walked off the pitch after Games officials displayed the South Korean flag before the match with Colombia.

North Korea eventually came back to the field at Glasgow’s Hampden Park stadium to win the match, 2-0, and the Games committee has since apologized for the error – but feathers are most certainly ruffled.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un is married! What we know about the ‘mystery woman’.

What happened?

The South Korean flag was accidentally displayed next to the faces of the North Korean players during a video package that ran on the stadium’s giant screen before the Hermit Kingdom’s match with Colombia. The North Koreans stalked off the pitch in anger, and the game was delayed more than an hour before they came back on. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) apologised immediately and said the fault was with the video producer, who has since offered to resign, The Telegraph reported. Meanwhile, the North Korean government demanded to know whether the gaffe was intentional: North Korea and South Korea are still technically at war, having only sign a truce agreement to end the bloody Korean War in 1953.

It was just a mistake, says Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to respond to questions about the incident. “This was an honest mistake, honestly made, an apology has been made and every step is being taken to ensure these things don’t happen again,” he told reporters at the Olympic Park, according to The Metro. “We shouldn’t overinflate this issue; it shouldn’t have happened and I think we can leave it at that.”

Worst mistake in Olympic history?

Sure, it was just a mistake – but as far as mistakes go, this was a “whopper”, wrote the Christian Science Monitor. “In the long history of the Olympic Games, stretching across more than a century, two World Wars, and a Games put on by the Third Reich, one might think that exchanging the South Korean flag for the North Korean flag might not be the worst mistake ever made by a host nation. But it might be,” the paper wrote. The paper spoke to David Wallechinksy, author of a book on Olympic history, who said, “To actually raise the flag of a nation considered your enemy – that’s a real bad one.” And to be sure, North Korea is still angry: “Of course the people are angry,” Ung Chang, North Korea’s Games representative, told Reuters Television. “If your athlete got a gold medal and put the flag probably of some other country, what happens?”

More in the Olympics

  • From pregnant shooters to moth attacks, the weird world of London 2012
  • Top five crazy Games stories
  • Bolt vs Blake: A red-hot rivalry
  • Cassetteboy’s Olympics welcome

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

Paperblog Hot Topics