We haven’t even enjoyed our overly lavish, long-winded opening ceremonies and London has already committed a major faux pas these summer Olympics, insulting a team and two entire nations with an unthinkable error.
Prior to the women’s soccer game between North Korea and Colombia — yes, the Olympics actually started Wednesday, days before Friday’s opening ceremonies — North Korean players were introduced on a jumbo screen with a South Korean flag.
The game was delayed for more than an hour as the North Koreans refused to take the field. Though the insulted team eventually won 2-0, both North Korea and South Korea have right to be outraged over the incident.
North Korea, with its odd combination of pride and pomp, splendor and squalor, holds itself above its traitorous neighbor to the south and will take offense to being considered in the same breath as South Korea.
South Korea, with its modern economy and enough food to actually feed its populace, should be appalled that someone would mistake the ludicrous North Korean state for itself.
It was a miserable way for the Olympics to kick off, even if the festivities haven’t officially kicked off yet, with David Beckham no doubt bending the kickoff with his own flair.
“It’s a matter for the organizers,” said International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams, essentially throwing the Brits under the double-decker bus.
To be fair, the match was played in Glasgow, Scotland, so perhaps some sneaky Scots sought to sabotage their snooty London rivals.
And London organizers did accept the blame.
“Today ahead of the women’s football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag. Clearly that is a mistake,” organizers said. “We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”
Some may wonder what the big deal is. They’re geographic neighbors with similar names and it may have been an honest mistake.
But sometimes, those honest mistakes are the worst.
I think the most enraged I’ve ever seen my dad is when someone mistakenly said OU (Oklahoma) instead of OSU (Oklahoma State), or vice versa. A proud Poke, such an offense is unforgivable and sends him into an orange, seething rage.
Magnified from a collegiate level to a national level, I’m honestly surprised Kim Jong Un didn’t pull his entire Olympic team out of Great Britain, given how oddly North Korean dictators tend to act.
I would like to point out, however, that many of our beloved sports rivalries — Texas vs. Texas A&M for example — have been in existence longer than the rivalry between North and South Korea, which only sprung up since the end of World War II.
So maybe all we need is for North Korea to team with ESPN to create the KJN (Kim Jong Network) and force South Korea out of Asia and into Europe. Maybe then all parties will be satisfied and we can put this embarrassing flag flap behind us.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.