“Sorry, no selfies” say North Korean team

Thursday 18th August, 2016

The story behind the lesser-known Olympic selfie between North and South Korean archers Kang Un-Ju and Chang Hye-Jin.

From left to right: South Korean coach Han Seung-Hoon, the North Korean coach, North Korea’s Kang Un-Ju, South Korea’s Chang Hye-Jin.

On the 11th of August, during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, North and South Korean Olympians met at the Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí. South Korean gold medallist Chang Hye-Jin competed with Kang Un-Ju at the round of 16 in Women’s Individual Archery. Much excitement surrounded the event, as it was the first time that North and South Korea would compete against one another in this year’s Olympics. Both Chang and Kang would have been nervous; for them, this was a particularly special event, as for the Korean spectators who watched them.

According to the Herald Business, to ease tension before the match, Chang reached out to the North Korean team in an amicable way, and asked if they would like to take a selfie.

However, the North Korean coach declined. “We cannot [take photos],” he said, as he waved his hand.

South Korean coach Han Seung-Hoon stepped in. “You can just stand next to us,” he said, and the North Korean coach acquiesced after some hesitation, turning his head to face the camera.

However, Kang Un-Ju was adamant. “I can’t look [at the camera],” she replied. The match began shortly thereafter.

Netizens responded to Han’s selfie with pity and sadness, one commenting, “there’s something sad about this photo”, and another, “I wanted to see Kang’s face”. Another said, “Why does this photo make my heart hurt?”

Chang explained further, “Perhaps it’s because of the tensions between our countries that Kang avoided talking to me during yesterday’s practice also. There is no opportunity to meet outside of the venue, either.”

Chang and Han’s event happened in light of the viral selfie between North Korean gymnast Hong Un-Jong and fellow South Korean counterpart Lee Eun-Ju, which has been described as a historic moment for North and South Korea and an icon of sports diplomacy in the Olympics.


Written by Park, Ju-Hee.

Read in Korean.

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