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2010s / Olympic Protocol Gaffe - Korean Flag Error
When play began at the Olympic women's soccer tourney on July 25, 2012 a major protocol error gummed up the works: North Korea's women's soccer team refused to take the field for its first Olympics match after an enormous diplomatic faux pax. The flag of their neighbor and ideological enemy South Korea was displayed alongside the players' names on the scoreboard at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland instead of the North Korean flag. North Korea eventually played its match against Colombia, winning 2-0, but only after receiving permission from the office of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. The diplomatic kerfuffle began after team officials ordered the players back to their locker room, delaying the start of the game for more than an hour. They informed Olympic staff that no further action would be taken until guidance had been sought from North Korea's national soccer federation. That federation is officially headed by Kim Jong-un, the son of recently deceased leader Kim Jong-il. The level of control exerted by the North Korean government over every aspect of life in the country means that all major sporting decisions must be approved by the leadership. North Korea and South Korea are technically still at war. The "peace" to end the Korean War in 1953 is only an armistice--not an actual peace treaty. Organizers profusely apologized for the "human error." The mistake came, ironically, only a few days after British Olympic organizers guaranteed there would be no errors with flags, national anthems, and other areas of international protocol during the 2012 Games.