[Letters] Ban N. Korea from tournaments

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[Letters] Ban N. Korea from tournaments

A unified Korean team competed separately in sporting events but marched under the Unification Flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

In theory at least, both North and South Korea agreed to send a joint team to the Doha 2006 Games. That undertaking foundered upon the Scylla of athletic parity, as much as it did upon the Charybdis of political ire: South Korea’s tally: 2004 Athens Olympics, 9 gold, 12 silver, 9 bronze (in women’s archery, Park Sung-hyun and Lee Sung-jin took gold and silver, respectively); 2002 Busan Asian Games: 96 gold, 80 silver, 84 bronze. North Korea’s tally in the 2004 Athens Olympics: 4 silver, 1 bronze; 2002 Busan Asian Games: 9 gold, 11 silver, 13 bronze.

No official flag represents North and South Korea. In 2006 however, the two nations both agreed to use the unification flag which includes Dokdo islets. The background is white. In the centre there is a blue silhouette of the Korean Peninsula.

Of course, Portugal routed the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of North Korea (DPRK) in the World Cup South Africa 2010 by a humiliating seven to none score, and DPRK can’t advance in the tournament after two straight losses.

In February 2003, then-President Kim Dae-jung warned that North Korea’s nuclear-weapons could force both South Korea and Japan to join an arms race. Happily, after the North Korean government joined the nonproliferation protocol and invited inspectors in, Operation Team Spirit, joint military exercises of South Korea and the United States on the peninsula were cancelled.

Sadly, North Korea torpedoed a South Korean war ship on March 26, 2010.

Is there a remedy for this unprovoked attack? FIFA decided to suspend the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Association from all International games in 2006. One of FIFA’s rules states that national federations must be NGOs and they must not be interfered with by the government in any way. FIFA wrote a letter to Germany’s President Angela Merkel asking her to ban Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad from attending the World Cup that Germany was to host in that year.

FIFA had complained, early and often, setting numerous deadlines to have changes made, but no one in Teheran was listening, so the ban was a logical consequence.

Starting the first day of the last month of 2006, the Asian Games were held in Doha, Qatar: just across the Persian Gulf from Iran. The Iranian Navy test-fired ballistic missiles (derived from North Korea’s stock of Rodong missiles) immediately following the Proliferation Security Initiative exercises in the Persian Gulf, and kept firing air-to-ground missiles through Nov. 12. (Qatar has been the site of the largest American Air Force base outside the U.S. for some time; also, U.S. Navy ships made some 500 port-calls nearby to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in one recent year).

What place could be more dangerous than the DPRK - a hyper-militarized dictatorship with nuclear weapons? Billy Graham visited North Korea twice in the 1990s, and Franklin, Billy’s son, in response to devastating floods in 2007, chartered a 747 cargo jet to deliver $8.3 million in medicine and other emergency supplies. That was the first private flight directly from the United States to the DPRK since the Korean War. The evangelist’s family has a long history in the DPRK, going back to 1934 when his mother Ruth Bell Graham attended a mission school in Pyongyang. His father Billy Graham visited in 1992 and 1994, meeting with President Kim Il Sung. Franklin Graham visited the DPRK in 2008 to oversee several aid operations and to preach at a newly constructed Protestant church in Pyongyang.

But I warn you that North Korea must face sanctions, despite a threatened Chinese veto in the UN Security Council; I also warn you that to abandon the Sunshine Policy altogether would be morally shattering. Therefore DPRK teams should be precluded from participation in international tournaments in order to turn up the heat.


Richard Thompson, San Diego, U.S.

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