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Flag Mix-Up At Olympics Angers North Korea

Flag mix up at London Olympics angers North Korea

A flag mix-up at the Olympics left officials cringing after the South Korean flag was used alongside the names of North Korean soccer players.

The flag mix-up occurred before the North Korean women’s team kicked off against Colombia, with the South Korean national flag appearing on the giant screen at Glasgow’s Hampden Park stadium. The match was delayed for an hour while the offended Koreans refused to kick a ball.

The game eventually went ahead, though the matter is by no means concluded. After the game, North Korean coach Gun Sin Ui seemed genuinely furious about the incident, and said he planned to take up the matter with the London organising committee (LOCOG) and world soccer body FIFA:

“Our players were announced with their photos and names alongside the South Korean national flag. The national flag difference is a big problem. Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly. Unfortunately it took some time later for the broadcast to be done again properly and we made the decision to go on with the match.”

Ui was also asked if he thought the flag mix-up was a deliberate ploy:

“That was the question I was going to ask LOCOG and FIFA. We were angry because our players were shown as if they were from South Korea which affects us very greatly. Our players cannot be shown especially with other flags, especially the South Korean one. If this matter had not been solved, continuing would have been a nonsense.”

A spokesman for LOCOG later issued an apology for the mistake, and promised a similar flag mix-up wouldn’t happen again:

“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, we will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”

Football fan James Crossan was at Hampden Park for the match, and caught the awkward moment when the South Korean flag made its unexpected appearance:

He later tweeted to show the correct flag being used:

If this all seems like a storm in a teacup, the two countries are not the wisest to get mixed up – the North and South are technically still at war despite fighting stopping in 1953, and tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high.

Fortunately, the flag mix-up didn’t seem to effect the Koreans too adversely – they coasted to a comfortable 2-0 victory.

See also:All of our Olympics coverage

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