After the disappointment of the cheering squad non-attendance, we were waiting for some of the usual petulance from the North Koreans to brighten up the 2014 Asian Games. There have indeed been problems with the Games, but so far the DPRK team - somewhat disappointingly - have behaved themselves. Their current tally of eight golds, putting them in sixth place, doesn't compare too well with the 126 golds for China, or indeed the 54 for South Korea, but the people of Pyongyang are, we learn, in "ecstasy of joy" at the successes:
Sportspersons of the DPRK are registering admirable successes at the ongoing 17th Asian Games. They won eight gold medals as of Sept. 27.
Their achievements have lashed the citizens in Pyongyang and other parts of the country into a great jubilee.
Jong Su Chol, a department chief of Korea University of Physical Education, told KCNA that the world public is struck with admiration at the progress of the DPRK's sports, which is rapidly developing under the deep care of supreme leader Kim Jong Un.
Yes, it's all down to the Great Marshal. Well-trained North Korean gold medal gymnast Kim Un Hyan was certainly in no doubt who to thank for her triumph:
After winning her medal, Kim was asked what the secret to the North’s strong performance in Incheon is. “In my country there is currently an unparalleled boom in sports, which can be found nowhere in the world,” she replied, shedding light on Kim Jong Eun’s aggressive push to invest in sports.
Showing no difference from other North Korean athletes, when asked how she felt about winning a gold, the gymnast referenced to the North’s Kim Jong Eun numerous times.
“Our Marshal [Kim Jong Eun] said only true athletes are able to win gold medals and winning in sports is like winning a war,” she said.
The gymnast also said, “I am so thrilled to know that the Marshal is watching this game,” adding with tears to her eyes, “Having our flag raised is a way of returning the love and kindness from our Marshal. I want to give him more glory and joy."
All of which is sadly ironic given that the Great Marshal has been out of the public eye for the past month, almost certainly because of problems to do with his overweight and excessive consumption of cheesy comestibles and other luxury items - hardly a fitting problem for a sporting inspiration. The Chosun Ilbo reports today that he had surgery on his fractured ankles:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had surgery in Pyongyang in mid-September to treat fractures to both ankles and remains in hospital, a source claimed Monday.
The source, who recently visited the North, said, "I heard that Kim Jong-un injured his right ankle in June after pushing ahead with on-site visits and ended up fracturing both ankles because he left the injury unattended."
I'm not a medical man, but I have to say that sounds a little odd to me. If you fracture one ankle, does that thereby increase the chance of fracturing your other ankle? How does that work? No, nice try, but gout is the more likely option.
In a country of rampant malnutrition I suppose we should be grateful that there does at least seem to be some embarrassment at the nature of the Great Marshal's health problems.