At the North Korea vs. Columbia women’s soccer match on Wednesday in Glasgow, Scotland, the players from North Korea refused to take the field, delaying the game by 65 minutes, because The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games displayed the South Korean flag next to the photos of the players on the Hampden Park stadium big screen.
The incident left the Olympic organizers feeling very embarrassed.
“Today ahead of the women’s football match at Hampden the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen instead of the flag of North Korea. Clearly that is a mistake. We will apologize to the team and the national Olympic committee and steps will be taken to ensure no repeat,” said the organizers in a statement.
Neither the statement nor the 2-0 win against Columbia mollified the North Koreans. Since the separation of the two countries in 1948 tensions have been high, especially following North Korea’s low-range rocket launch in April.
North Korean soccer coach Ui Gun-sin told The Guardian: “The national flag difference is a big problem. Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly… 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.”
The U.S. plays North Korea on Tuesday at Old Trafford in Manchester.