It may not be as bad as playing the song from Borat instead of their national anthem, but the North Korean women’s soccer team is still pretty pissed that the scoreboard guy at Glasgow’s Ibrox Stadium got their flag mixed up with the flag of hated rivals South Korea—they’re so angry, they’ve locked themselves in their hotel rooms and they won’t come out. According to The Associated Press, the team was “back in seclusion at a hotel in Glasgow on Thursday after accepting profuse apologies from Olympic organizers,” and no one knows what they’ll do next. Though they did come back (from hiding) to beat Columbia 2-0, there has been talk of the team—if not the entire country—boycotting the rest of the tournament.
While the organizing committee is chalking it up to human error and calling it an honest mistake, this is no small potatoes to the Koreans, who are technically still at war with their southern neighbours—the two countries signed an armistice, not a peace treaty, back in ’53. Mind you, they did walk in together under the “unified Peninsula flag” at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but that was before the North sunk the South’s battleship a couple years back. The AP also notes that “The flag mix-up comes amid high tension on the Korean Peninsula, following a North Korean long-range rocket launch in April and repeated threats by Pyongyang to attack the South.”
Considering that the North appears to be the aggressor here, you’d think there’d be more bitterness and hatred coming up from the South than vice-versa, but let’s not forget that North Korea is a communist dictatorship where people were reportedly jailed for watching South Korean TV. If the women’s soccer team didn’t make enough of a stink about this, they’d likely meet the same fate. Hmm, how do you say gulag in Korean?