'Dear respected' Kim inspires N.Koreans

He lacks the toned physique of an Olympian but "dear respected" leader Kim Jong-Un will be the inspiration when North Korea's athletes go for gold at the London Olympics.

North Korea are aiming for a record number of medals in London in what would be a timely boost for Kim, the new face of the country's ruling dynasty and its all-pervasive personality cult.

The portly young man in his late twenties is just months into his reign after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il, the guiding light for the North's athletes at previous Games.

When Pak Hyon-Suk clinched women's weightlifting gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she heaped praise on Kim Jong-Il, who was known as the "Dear Leader" or "Dear General".

"I just kept it in my head that my Dear General's eyes would be watching over me, and that encouraged me to lift this weight," said Pak. "I am overjoyed by the fact that I have brought great joy to our Dear Leader."

Pyongyang announced in early June that 51 athletes had qualified in 11 sports for London, with its main medal hopes in weightlifting, wrestling and women's football.

At Beijing in 2008 the North won two gold, one silver and three bronze medals to finish in 34th place overall -- below its best showing of four golds among nine medals at Barcelona 1992.

Little is known about the sporting tastes of the younger Kim, often tagged "dear respected" in state media, apart from a reported passion for American basketball during his school years.

But the talents of his father, who died in December, were such that he famously carded five holes in one in his first round of golf, according to official media.

At the 2003 University Games in South Korea, a troupe of North Korean cheerleaders wept uncontrollably when they saw a poster of the Dear Leader getting wet in the rain.

And at the Beijing Olympics, South Korean athletes were under strict instructions not to point or laugh at badges or portraits depicting Kim Jong-Il.

During the Olympics, attention often focuses on the North's decision to march, or not, in tandem with South Korea at the opening ceremony.

In a rough barometer of political relations, the two Koreas marched together in 2000 and 2004 but could not reach agreement in 2008.

Relations are currently at their frostiest for years and there has been no discussion at all about a joint march in London.

Several other incidents involving North Korea have gone down in sporting lore.

In June last year, football coach Kim Kwang-Min blamed a 2-0 women's World Cup loss to the United States partly on a pre-tournament lightning strike which was said to have hit several players.

The following month, there was another bolt from the blue -- football's governing body FIFA said five members of the team had tested positive for banned anabolic steroids.

The Koreans claimed the steroids came from a Chinese remedy, which includes an extract from the gland of the musk deer, and was given to the players hit by lightning. But FIFA banned North Korea from the 2015 women's World Cup.

Men's football provided North Korea with arguably their finest moment, when they shocked mighty Italy 1-0 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals in 1966.

But there were ugly scenes in 2005, when the Pyongyang crowd threw rocks and bottles at the Syrian referee during a World Cup qualifying loss against Iran.

In April 2009 the North accused arch-rivals South Korea of poisoning the food of its players who lost a World Cup qualifier in Seoul.

And last November, a 1-0 victory in a qualifier over former colonial ruler Japan was seen as sweet revenge for past injuries -- and a chance to humiliate the visiting team.

Only 150 tickets were allocated to Japanese supporters, and players were held up for four hours at immigration.

They were told off for laughing and had items such as bananas, chewing gum and instant noodles confiscated, Japanese media said.

Before the game, deafening boos drowned out the Japanese national anthem in an intimidating atmosphere at Pyongyang's Kim Il-Sung Stadium, named after the current leader's grandfather.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Catholics organize to promote pope's climate change message

    NEW YORK (AP) — There will be prayer vigils and pilgrimages, policy briefings and seminars, and sermons in parishes from the U.S. to the Philippines. …

  • Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored
    Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Carroll Heath didn't have it easy growing up in the Great Depression. His father wasn't around, his mother was a patient in a mental hospital and he kept largely to himself. Soon after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army and wound up in the Philippines, where he's believed to have died sometime in 1942. …

  • APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda
    APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda

    Trade ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Boracay, Aklan agreed yesterday to endorse the proposed Boracay Action Agenda to the member countries’ leaders, presenting opportunities for global trade for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In a press conference following the conclusion of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, who also served as chairman, said ministers agreed to recommend the adoption of the …

  • Talks with China over sea row urged
    Talks with China over sea row urged

    The Philippines should engage China in bilateral talks in its efforts to maintain peace and order at the disputed West Philippine Sea, Sen. Francis Escudero said yesterday. Escudero supports the government’s move to bring the issue before international arbitration but also stressed the need for the Philippines to pursue talks with China. Escudero made the statement after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. …

  • House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills
    House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills

    The House committee on national defense is deliberating on a measure mandating the regular conduct of disaster risk reduction drills in educational institutions nationwide. Authored by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., the bill mandates that risk reduction drills be held annually in all educational institutions throughout the country in coordination with the schools’ respective local government units. “The Philippines’ location along the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator …

  • PCSO running out of funds
    PCSO running out of funds

    Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman Ireneo Maliksi has admitted that the revenue-generating agency is running out of funds as it continues with its mandate to provide financial assistance to indigent Filipinos. Aside from providing financial help to individual recipients, Maliksi cited at least 13 laws that mandates the PCSO to provide mandatory contribution to different government agencies. Just last week, PCSO released P100 million to the Commission on Higher Education as …

  • Cops receive mid-year bonus
    Cops receive mid-year bonus

    Active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP)have received their mid-year bonuses. The PNP has released P1.9 billion for the mid-year bonus of the 155,000 active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel. The Directorate for Comptrollership released P1,933,664,893.50 through the Finance Service and subsequently credited to the individual ATM payroll accounts of active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel. …

  • APEC trade chiefs vow to speed up work in WTO

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Trade ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday issued strong support to the World Trade Organization's efforts to boost global trade amid a flurry of regional free trade agreements. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options