Call for North Korea flag mix-up to be explained

The South Korean flag on a television screen in the stadium Credit: Twitter/@jamescrossan

Embarrassed officials will today need to establish if the flag mix-up before North Korea's opening women's game against Colombia was deliberate after the Asian side's coach last night claimed it could have been.

The Olympic women's football match between North Korea and Colombia was delayed for an hour last night after the North Koreans refused to play because their national flag had been confused with that of South Korea on the stadium TV screen before kick-off.

The blunder happened at Glasgow's Hampden Park stadium during an Olympic preliminary match.

After warming up on the pitch, both teams withdrew to the changing rooms ahead of the game. But 45 minutes after the scheduled kick-off, the pitch remained empty.

North Korea coach Gun Sin Ui stressed the gravity of the incident and also revealed he planned to take up the matter with London organising committee LOCOG and FIFA.

Ui said: "Our players were announced with their photos and names alongside the South Korean national flag. The national flag difference is a big problem.

"Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly. Unfortunately it took some time later for the broadcast to be done again properly and we made the decision to go on with the match."

Coach of the North Korean women's football team Sin Ui-Gun. Credit: Reuters

Asked whether he believed the wrong flag had deliberately been used, Ui said: "That was the question I was going to ask LOCOG and Fifa.

"We were angry because our players were shown as if they were from South Korea which affects us very greatly.

"Our players cannot be shown especially with other flags, especially the South Korean one.

"If this matter had not been solved, continuing would have been a nonsense

The two Koreas are technically still at war although fighting has largely ceased since 1953.

North Korean official Son Kwang Ho points out the mistake Credit: EMPICS Sport/EMPICS Sport

After 20 minutes had passed since the scheduled kick-off time, an announcement was made over the public address system apologizing for the delay and saying it "was due to an issue behind the scenes. We're trying to resolve it and we'll keep you updated."

After the correct flag was found, the North Korean team eventually returned to the pitch and started play, 65 minutes after the match was due to begin.

The team eventually returns to the pitch Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

A spokesman for LOCOG apologised for the blunder and said that steps would be taken to avoid it happening again.

North Korea fans cringe as officials work to correct the mistake Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire