This is the reaction of South Korea’s MZ generation as they watched North Korean athletes who participated in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.
North Korea, which appeared on the international sports stage for the first time in five years through the Asian Games, was still seen as an object of disconnection and isolation. North Korean athletes were cold on the stage of international peace and harmony amid well-intentioned sports competition.
In the round of 16 in the men’s 73kg judo tournament, South Korea’s Kang Heon-cheol (27, Yongin City Hall) and North Korea’s Kim Cheol-kwang (27) were held. The tight game ended with Kim Chul-kwang’s missed shot. Kang Heon-cheol swallowed the pain of defeat and approached Kim Chul-kwang with a hand out, but Kim Chul-kwang refused to shake hands and went out of the court. It is a scene that is rarely seen that the loser refused to shake hands in judo that values manners.
What’s even more regrettable is that Kim Chul-kwang is a close player who formed a unified team with South Korean players at the 2018 World Championship. 안전놀이터
There was also a bad look at the award ceremony (shooting), which should be colored with emotion. The North Korean athletes, who received the medals with sad expressions, stared elsewhere without facing the national flag even when the national anthem rang out as the national flag went up. It’s a bad guy that’s hard to see at any awards ceremony.
His bad attitude continued even during the podium commemorative photoshoot. Usually at international competitions, medalists stand side by side on the top of the podium, encouraging each other and taking group shots. On this day, the Indonesian athletes who won the bronze medal came up on the podium for a group shot at the suggestion of the South Korean athletes, but the North Korean athletes turned away without even looking at their faces.
In men’s soccer, he acted threateningly to the referee and the opposing team staff. North Korean players, who complained about the referee’s penalty kick decision in the quarterfinals against Japan, pushed the referee with their bodies and made harsh words and threatening words. The North Korean coaches watching stopped the players. Earlier, one player was warned in a posture that threatened Japanese medical staff who entered the ground with their arms while the game was suspended. The Japan Football Association sent the video and letter to FIFA, pointing out that the North Korean players’ actions were “anti-sports.”
North Korea, which did not attend the press conference depending on how it felt after the match, created an uncomfortable atmosphere at the press conference. At a press conference after the women’s basketball inter-Korean match, an official of the North Korean team said, “We are not North Korea.” We are the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “At the Asian Games, all countries should be correctly called,” he shot back.
A few days later, North Korea’s Korean Central TV reported North Korea’s goal scene in the quarterfinals between South Korea and North Korea in women’s soccer, labeling South Korea as a “monster” in its screen caption.
In weightlifting, there was also a message that the North Korean coach cheered for the South Korean player’s medal, and in table tennis, he took a group shot in a rigid state on the podium, led by Shin Yu-bin, who exudes bright energy, but overall, North Korea’s attitude toward the South Korean team and the bad manners on the field were enough to buy criticism. Foreign media also pointed out, “It is an insult to Korean players,” and “It was clearly revealed that they are disconnected from the international community.”
Unlike the previous administration, which formed a unified team, there may be a backlash against the current administration’s intense North Korea policy, but if you stick to such low-level actions and positions on the international sports stage seeking peace and harmony, you will only lose North Korea’s image.
There are many MZ generations who do not consider North Korea as the same people. Various opinion polls also showed that there is a large difference in perception between the middle-aged and the MZ generation over the necessity of unification. For the MA generation, North Korea is regarded as a “warning object” beyond “object that has little to do with us.” Some also regard it as an object of disgust. North Korea’s image to the South Korean MZ generation has worsened due to North Korea’s harassment revealed at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
It is bitter because it seems to have only confirmed that the two Koreas are moving further away from the Asian Games stage, which should be a little closer and a place of harmony.