Monday, August 2, 2010

An Instructive Example?

During the course of the just-ended World Cup, I made comments to the effect that the players for the North Korean soccer team and their families would be sent to re-education camp should the team do poorly.

Well, the team did poorly indeed, losing all three of their group round games, including a 0 - 7 thrashing by Portugal. This last after Kim Jong-il, Dear Leader, consented to show the game live nationwide following the NK's strong performance in a 1 - 2 loss to perennial powerhouse Brazil. Quelle humiliation!

The Telegraph (UK) posted a story on Friday which reported that the NK coach Kim Jong-hun will spend the next few years as a day laborer at a constructon site, after being subjected to "a six-hour grilling from 400 officials of the Communist country's hardline regime," during which his players were forced to blame him for their failure.

That story was later picked up by The Sun, which put its own particular spin on the story, opening with:
As Fabio Capello keeps his £6million-a-year job and enjoys a long holiday despite England's failure, Kim Jong-Hun, 53, will be grafting as a labourer for up to 14 hours a day.

While The Sun didn't bother provide sources (natch!) The Telegraph sourced "Radio Free Asia and South Korean media". According to its story, "Reports in South Korea said the Portugal thrashing was a result of direct orders from Kim Jong-Il to switch to an attacking style."

I found two stories online from the major South Korean papers: Korea Herald (2010-08-02) was scooped by Chosun Ilbo (2010-07-28) by nearly a week! The Herald admits its story is "according to The Sun". And the Chosun report relies on RFA and "A source in Sinuiju" for its facts:
Around 400 officials including the vice minister of the Workers' Party, Sports Minister Pak Myong-chol, other athletes and sport students were apparently part of the audience. Ri Dong-kyu, a sports commentator for the North's state-run Korean Central TV, pointed out the mistakes of each player.

So, who is actually behind this story? Looks like Radio Free Asia, which is a propaganda arm of the United States government. The story, from 2010-07-28, is headed World Cup Team Shamed, Reprimanded.

And it may well be true. After all, just a few months ago, DPRK executed Pak Nam-gi, the dude who had been North Korea's finance minister for about two decades, when the "screw with the money" plan didn't work out. After TWENTY YEARS in that job, he was labeled a "bourgeois infiltrator" who deliberately ruined the NK economy.

In that oeuvre, it is not unreasonable to expect an unfortunate outcomefor one who has shamed the great and almighty DPRK once again in the world of sports competition.

But, perhaps it is not so. The best source for NK information that I know is available online to everyone; it is, simply, Daily NK. Today's story on this topic seems to contradict the conventional wisdom! Have look at this:
An Myung Hak and Jung Tae Se, Korean-Japanese players who ply their trade outside the country, were not present, RFA added.
The report also repeated a rumor from Shinuiju whereby Kim Jong Hun had been expelled from the Party for, allegedly, betraying successor Kim Jong Eun’s trust.
However, sources from North Korea told The Daily NK that immediately after the North reached the World Cup Finals there were widespread celebrations and the coach was handed the prestigious “People’s Athlete” title. As one source pointed out, “In that situation, punishing him may have brought about side effects in public opinion.”

No comments: