INTERNATIONAL INCIDENTS INVOLVING THE WRONG FLAG / History repeats itself in Britain




It came close to an international incident at the 2012 Olympic Games at Edinburgh when the North Korean women's football team was introduced but the South Korean flag was inadvertently displayed beside images of the players. This led to a walkout by the North Korean team in protest until the right flag was found. International sensitivities came to a head because the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North) is still technically at war with its neighbours the Republic of Korea (South). Incidentally, the North Koreans, spurred on by righteous indignation,  beat Colombia 2-0.    



A similar incident took place at the 2006 Leeds International Piano Competition but in reverse. Some person (presumably not Dame Fanny Waterman) had the swell idea of displaying the national flags of all the pianists below their names in the programme book. This resulted in all eight South Korean pianists having a North Korean flag accompany them throughout the entire competition (see above). Spurred on by righteous indignation and musical inspiration, three South Koreans made the semi-finals, with Sunwook Kim and Sunghoon Kim winning the 1st and 5th prizes respectively. An audience member later remarked to me, "I did not know they had such a great musical conservatory in Pyongyang!"



This was not the first incident involving the Leeds International Piano Competition. In 1984, the Chinese jury member Ding Shande (composer of the Great March Symphony) threatened to quit the competition when the Taiwanese flag (Republic of China, above left) was displayed instead of the Chinese one (People's Republic of China,  above right). 

So its back to Geography, Geo-Politics, History and International Relations 101 classes for the Brits!