Some pretty crazy news stories have emerged from North Korea stating that the players who performed at this summer’s world cup were all subject to public batterings, where they were accused of “betraying” and “humiliating” their country with their 3 straight defeats. Their coach took the biggest punishment, however, and was made to work for free as a construction worker. He has even commented that he was “afraid for his life”.

This really is absurd in every way. The validity of these stories is very much in question, and maybe just western reporters searching for sensationalism. Then again, it really would be hard to know for sure what goes on in North Korea. Similar things have happened in the past.

Most people would agree that punishing sports players like this for any failure is nuts, but the thing is North Korea shouldn’t be too embarrassed by their performance in the first place. Yes, they lost heavily to Portugal and didn’t trouble Ivory Coast much, but in their match vs. Brazil they played with more guts and passion that 50% of the teams present. They may have finished bottom of all the rankings, but there have certainly been worse performances in other World Cups.

So hopefully these stories are indeed made up or at least exaggerated. If not, one can only hope these players and this manager find a way out of the situation, because it really doesn’t sit well with anything resembling common sense.


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