If North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has his way, then the athletes who represented his country and failed to perform at this year’s Rio Olympics could be sent to coal mines as punishment.
According to the Korea Times, the North Korean leader had demanded the sports contingent to return with a minimum of five golds and 12 other medals.
On July 28, Yun Yong-bok, a senior official of the delegation, told reporters at Rio: "We didn't come all the way here to win a meagre five gold medals."
North Korea sent 31 athletes to this year’s Olympics, winning two golds, three silvers and two bronzes, compared to four golds and two bronzes four years ago at London. Even though the overall medal tally was one more than last time, the gold medals were lesser and thus fell short of expectations.
"Those who won medals will be rewarded with better housing allocations, better rations, a car and maybe other gifts from the regime, but Kim is going to be angry and disappointed at these results," said Professor Toshimitsu Shigemura, an authority on the North Korean leadership.
"Those he feels have let him down are likely to be punished by being moved to poorer quality housing, having their rations reduced and, in the worst-case scenario, being sent to the coal mines as punishment."
However, those that were sent to mines will be allowed to come back again after one or two years, Shigemura added.