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[PyeongChang 2018] Suspicions about N. Korean Paralympic athletes ‘raised by North Koreans’

March 13, 2018 - 17:22 By Cho Yun-myung
North Koreans expressed doubts about their country’s participants in the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics, according to Radio Free Asia, an international radio broadcasting station.

A source from North Hamgyeong Province told the RFA that North Korean athletes at the 2018 Paralympic Games were likely to have been “arranged in a hurry by North Korean authorities to utilize the Winter Games for international propaganda.”

North Korean skiers Ma Yu-chol (left) and Kim Jong-hyon practice at the Alpensia Biathlon Center in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Saturday. (Yonhap)

The source said, “It is impossible for a person with congenital disabilities to become a national athlete by their own will in this country.

“I lived for more than 10 years in Pyongyang while in the military and in college, but I had never seen a disabled person in the city.”

A North Korean defector who came to South Korea in 2017 supported the point, telling the RFA that “a person with disabilities cannot even set foot in downtown Pyongyang.”

The Guardian also pointed out that prior to the opening of the Paralympic Games, “North Korea’s presence at the Paralympics has raised eyebrows due to a history of claims of official discrimination against disabled people.”

North Korea made its first-ever appearance at the Winter Paralympics with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games.

The North Korean delegation includes four athletes watching on during Paralympic matches and two Nordic skiers participating, Ma Yu-chol and Kim Jong-hyon.

By Cho Yun-myung (