North Korea’s women’s soccer team walked off the pitch yesterday after players’ faces were mistakenly projected next to the South Korean flag. The angered team refused to return until the image had been corrected, delaying the game substantially before returning to defeat Colombia 2-0. North Korea’s coach Sin Ui Gun defended his teams decision, telling BBC news "If this matter had not been solved, continuing would have been a nonsense."
The incident is just another on the growing list of Olympic gaffes. The Council for British-Arab Understanding has mocked new Arabic security posters as "gibberish," noting that the posters had been printed in the wrong alphabet and individual characters reversed. As the Passport reported earlier, confusion over athlete’s birthplaces led to several independent states being listed as Russian in an accidental return to Soviet geography. Olympic officials proved they did not, however, discriminate, and in a slew of mistakes struck closer to home. The Great Britain team program incorrectly listed Swansea City’s Welsh midfielder, Joe Allen, as English — just a day after a press release congratulated the British women’s team under the banner "England women on their way."
For their part, Scottish officials have pointed the finger to London over the North Korea episode, claiming that the Glasgow stadium was displaying a video produced by a capital organizer and highlighting that the correct flag was flown from the stadium’s top tier. Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters "This was an honest mistake, honestly made" before pleading: "We shouldn’t over-inflate this episode — it was unfortunate, it shouldn’t have happened and I think we can leave it at that."
The North Korean team accepted the official apology before retreating to hotel seclusion. Though state media carefully avoided mention of the flag dispute, Coach Sin Ui Gun warned "winning the game can’t compensate for the mistake." We’ll see if the upcoming men’s table tennis match between South Korea and North Korea changes his mind.
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |