North Korean Media Will Not Broadcast Olympics Live
North Korea is taking a big risk by participating, in some cases in a joint capacity with South Korea, at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
Proud as the Communist government of the so-called Hermit Kingdom is of its athletes, whether or not officials in the North will actually allow their citizens to see much of what happens at the 23rd Winter Games is a different story. Ultimately that decision will come down to two factors: a history and explicit policy of strict state censorship and, of course, if the North Korean athletes do well in competition at the Olympics. They aren’t off to a great start so far.
The famously combined North/South Korean women’s hockey team, for one, was gunned down 8-zilch by Switzerland in its debut match over the weekend. There aren’t too many people (no, not even the North Korean Olympic delegation if they are being honest), whether fans or analysts of the sport that expected the combined Korean women’s team to achieve much success. Frankly, the team was looking at very long odds indeed, whereas the Swiss women’s team, though not a front-runner on the betting board at Bovada.lv, has moneyline odds of +2800 – and those are not the worst chances to claim a bronze medal, all things considered.
As a good piece of publicity and a positive political statement, the arm-in-arm entry of athletes from the divided nations on the Korean peninsula into the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony’s Parade of Nations or the fact that there was actually a team comprised of players from the North and South can’t be beat. North Korea is sure to play this triumphant entrance up on their state-run and incredibly closely monitored news outlets, but you can bet these mouthpiece agencies will not be airing replays of the blowout loss to the Swiss women’s team, and they probably didn’t show it live as it happening either. The last time the North Korean sports network (one of the nation’s leader Kim Jong-un strongly encourages his people to watch) took a chance and aired a live match featuring its women’s hockey team, their players suffered a drubbing at the hands of the New Zealanders just last year.
In the game against the Swiss team, the Koreans endured an unanswered barrage of three goals against them in the first period and another three in the second before the final two came in the last period of play. The Swiss completely dominated the proceedings, easily handling the united Korean team of more than 200, of which only 12 players were from the North (three of which actually took to the ice on the night). Despite being by all accounts a miserable loss on the ice, the game in all its pageantry was a big win from the North Korean perspective, though it would of course have been better for all parties involved if the joint Korean team had won.
Still, SportsBettingStates.com thinks the Olympic hopes of the North Koreans (and just slightly less than half of South Koreans, if a recent poll conducted by the Korea Society Opinion Institute right before the start of the PyeongChang Winter Games), aren’t lost just set. There are a total of nine other teams from North Korea set to compete at events ranging from alpine skiing disciplines to short track speed skating, and we have already seen plenty of upsets in some of these sports, so truly anything can happen. Again, whether or not anyone living behind what is the world’s last true Iron Curtain north of the 48th parallel will get to see their countrymen compete will depend on if they medal or not.