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North Korean shooters snub South Koreans on podium



Asian Games - Hangzhou 2022 - Shooting - Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre, Hangzhou, China - September 25, 2023 Gold medallists South Korea's Ha Kwang-chul, Jeong You-jin and Your Bin Kwak stand on the podium after the Men's Team 10m Running Target Mixed event alongside silver medallists North Korea's Kwon Kwang-il, Pak Myong-won and Songjun Yu REUTERS/Dylan Martinez Acquire Licensing Rights  

Three North Korean marksmen refused to join their South Korean rivals in a group photo of medal winners at the Hangzhou Asian Games after narrowly missing out on gold in a men’s team shooting competition on Monday.

After receiving their silver medal in the men’s team 10m running target, their country’s first of the Games, the three North Korean athletes first broke with tradition by declining to turn towards the flag during the rendition of the national anthem of the winners, South Korea.

Then, during the customary group photo, where all medal winners bunch together for the cameras, the bronze medallists, Indonesia, joined South Korea on the top rung of the podium, but the three North Koreans, Kwon Kwang-il, Pak Myong-won and Songjun Yu, did not.

During a brief, but awkward delay one of the South Koreans tapped one of the North Koreans on the shoulder and tried to speak to them, but the North Koreans kept silent and did not even look to their left where their rivals stood.

The podium drama at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre on the outskirts of the Eastern Chinese cit was the latest controversy involving the team from the long isolated country.


A day earlier the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said it was happy for the North Korea flag to keep flying at the Games despite it being banned over the country’s non-compliance with global anti-doping rules.

The Hangzhou Asian Games is the first international multi-sport event North Korea is attending since the 2018 edition in Jakarta.

North Korea was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until the end of 2022, missing last year’s Beijing Winter Games, after failing to send a team to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty meaning the two sides are still technically at war.






Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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