South Korea, by utter contrast, shed authoritarian rule more than 20 years ago, to emerge as a thriving democracy. South Korea’s economy ranks among the world’s top 20. Its chief exports include assets as ships, cars and high-tech communications equipment. South Korea’s athletes have real reasons to be proud not only of their personal prowess, but also their country’s achievements.
The day may come when the Korean peninsula is reunited. When that happens, it is devoutly to be hoped that the flag flying over such an event will be that of South Korea, not the North. In that context, the London Olympic organizers are hardly guilty of the worst mistake they could have made with those Korean flags.
Actually, if truth in advertising is a genuine concern of the organizers of the London Olympics, they owe all of us an apology merely for listing North Korea, in these Olympics, under its official name: “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” Anyone remotely acquainted with the character of the Pyongyang regime surely knows that this official name is rank propaganda, a.k.a. a string of lies. North Korea is in no way “Democratic,” neither does it belong to its “People,” nor is it a “Republic.” It is a totalitarian prison state. And dignifying North Korea’s regime with groveling apologies, no matter what the gaffe, is an act far worse than any mixup of flags — all the more so for being deliberate, rather than what was apparently an accidental flag flub. In the interest of human decency, it would be entirely appropriate for the apologizers to now apologize to the world for their apologies to North Korea. But don’t hold your breath.