North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un aspires for the Hermit Kingdom to become an international sports powerhouse.
The country held the seventh annual National Conference of Sportspersons in Pyongyang. Kim did not attend, but sent a letter to be read to the athletes. KCNA, the state run media outlet, reported that Kim claimed sports are very important to North Korea since they demonstrate “the country’s dignity, spirit and national power.” The agency lavished love on North Korean founder Kim Il Sung for discovering “sportspersons,” who have since “performed great feats for the party and the leader, the country and its people.”
In an unsurprising move, KCNA claimed the “history of Juche-oriented sports” is filled with “victories” of athletes “winning gold medals in games to demonstrate the dignity of the country and the nation.” Juche is translated as “self-reliance” and is a made up religion of Kim Il Sung. However, Kim “lamented” that North Korea remains behind in the world and wants the athletes to use “guerrilla-style” tactics to dominate in sports.
“Sports officials and coaches must implement the tactics of anti-Japanese guerilla-style attacks in each sport event in order to take the initiative in every game and triumph,” he wrote.
The recluse country has participated in nine summer Olympics since 1972. In total, North Korea won 14 gold medals, including four in 2012 in London. The country qualified for the 2010 World Cup, but lost all three group games. Upon their return, the regime forced the players to endure “a six-hour excoriation for ‘betraying’ the communist nation’s ideological struggle.” People feared “for the safety of team coach, Kim Jung-hun, who was accused of betraying the son and heir of the regime’s Dear Leader,’ Kim Jong-il.
In 2013, Kim persuaded athletes to do a better job with “luxury apartments” promised for success.
Kim is a huge sports fan, especially basketball. His friendship with former NBA player Dennis Rodman made international headlines. Rodman received backlash for his numerous visits to North Korea, but justified his actions when he returned home. He told Du Jour magazine, “[T]hat little kid is changing North Korea for the better.” He also said Kim “would rather listen to pop music than start a nuclear war.”
“Kim is not one of these Saddam Hussein-type character that wants to take over the world,” Rodman insisted. “He doesn’t want to kill anyone – he wants to talk peace.”