After coming so close to winning gold in a men’s team shooting competition on Monday at the Hangzhou Asian Games, three North Korean marksmen declined to join their South Korean competitors in a group photo of medal winners. The competition was between the two Koreas.
After earning their silver medal in the men’s team 10m running target, which was North Korea’s first medal of the Games, the three North Korean athletes first broke with convention by refusing to turn towards the flag during the singing of the national song of the country that had won the competition, which was South Korea. This was South Korea’s first medal of the Games.
Then, when it came time for the usual group shot, in which all of the medal winners gathered together for the cameras, Indonesia, the country that had won the bronze medal, joined South Korea on the podium’s highest step. Still, the three North Korean competitors, Kwon Kwang-il, Pak Myong-won, and Songjun Yu, did not participate.
During a brief but awkward pause, one of the South Koreans patted one of the North Koreans on the shoulder and tried to talk to them, but the North Koreans remained mute and did not even turn to their left, where their competitors were. The South Koreans were unable to communicate with the North Koreans.
The most recent scandal to involve the national squad from the long-isolated country occurred at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre on the outskirts of the Eastern Chinese city.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had stated the day before that it was pleased for the North Korean flag to continue to fly at the Games even though it was prohibited because North Korea did not comply with global anti-doping guidelines.
Since the conclusion of the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018, North Korea has not participated in any other international multi-sport event until the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
After failing to send a team to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, North Korea was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until the end of 2022. As a result of this suspension, North Korea could not participate in the Winter Games in Beijing in 2018.
Since the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, concluded in an armistice rather than a peace treaty, the two sides are technically still at war.