North Korea hardly seen, barely heard

N Korea might be hogging the headlines for its brazen attack on a S Korean island, but at the Asian Games it has kept a decidedly low profile, isolating athletes and fans.

Last Updated: Nov 24, 2010, 11:00 AM IST

Guangzhou: North Korea might be hogging the
headlines for its brazen attack on a South Korean island, but
at the Asian Games it has kept a decidedly low profile,
isolating athletes and fans.

The secretive communist state has successfully managed to
make it a home away from home in Guangzhou with virtually no
media access as it has quietly picked up a moderate haul of 30
medals, five of them gold, so far.

North Korean sports officials have refused to answer
questions -- either verbally or in written form -- despite
repeated requests by a news agency.

In general, athletes here are not obliged to talk, but
are expected to do so if they win a medal, which has forced
some North Korean competitors and coaches to attend press
conferences.

Faced with cameras and questions, athletes have looked
deeply uncomfortable, hardly shifting their gaze from the
floor and replying with nothing more than a mumbled sentence
or leaving it to their coaches to answer.

"Just like the coach said, we lost our energy and we were
too tired to play at our best level," was glum-faced defender
Yu Jong-Hui`s reply as to why the North lost the women`s
gold-medal football final to rivals Japan on Monday.

Female weightlifter Jong Chun-Mi was no more forthcoming
after winning bronze in the 58kg category.

Asked why she had attempted a lower weight than at last
year`s East Asian Games, she replied: "I didn`t feel very well
today."

Chinese police meanwhile have been keeping the sprinkling
of fans supporting North Korean competitors or teams well away
from other spectators, as well as the media.

At the Japan game about 150 North Korean supporters --
men, women and even children -- were in matching red caps and
red jackets with the words "DPR Korea" emblazoned on the back
in white letters.

They were cut off from the rest of the 23,000 spectators
at Tianhe Stadium by a cordon manned by stern-faced police
with reporters denied access.

PTI