Saturday, September 01, 2012

Heartbreak, Yes. But Anger too, Surely, from the U-20 Women’s Chollima

We the soccer fans of Japan congratulate the US team—well, I will anyway, though the US team beat our Nadeshiko 11 for the Olympic gold medal—for making it into the semifinals of the knockout stage of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012. But America’s joy is North Korea’s despair, as the U-20 women’s Chollima(1) who fell to the US side 2-1 in overtime. And as if to add insult to injury, the Asian Football Federation is using the South Korean system of romanization for North Korean names. Specifically in this piece of news, for instance, Kim Su-gyong instead of Kim Su Gyong.

The two systems are applied by the two Koreas respectively to the other side of the 38th parallel north. Thus, President Lee Myung-bak is Lee Myung Bak to the North Korean media (when it is not calling him worse) while the South Korean media give the Dear Leader (or whatever they call Kim III over there) the Kim Jong-un treatment, not Kim Jong Un. Now I’m pretty sure that this difference has more political resonance than the 49th parallel, center-centre divide.(2) So, if there are any North Koreans reading this blog, you know who to thank for alerting you, okay?
(1) The North Koreans apparently do not give different names to their men and women’s national teams. By contrast, their political leadership if anything is as dominated by men as that of their communist allies in China (as well as democratic Japan). In fact, it’s fascinating to see how socialist states utterly failed to progress towards gender equality during their decades in power.

(2) Oddly, the South Koreans are foregoing the use of the hyphen for the names of its players and FIFA is recording their names accordingly. Thus, it’s Jeon Haneul, not Jeon Han-eul. The North Koreans make no such concessions.

No comments: