North Korea suffered an epic 7-0 drubbing by Portugal in Monday's World Cup action, guaranteeing the team's early exit from the tournament. But that doesn't change the fact that the outlaw state "should have been excluded" from the start, says Eve Fairbanks in Newsweek. Just as the worldwide 80s-era "sports boycott" of apartheid South Africa did wonders to "heighten outside awareness of the evils of [the] regime," so too would a World Cup ban on North Korea. Instead, FIFA — and South Africa — allowed the "inhumane" dictatorship of Kim Jong-il in, possibly helping to gain unwarranted "respect and understanding" from the rest of the world. Here, an excerpt:
"I have to admit that the more goals the Portuguese scored, the worse I felt.... I was rooting for North Korea... [W]hen I looked at those hapless North Korean players giving up goal after goal, I wondered how safe their friends and families would be.
Does that sound overwrought? Then take a minute to read some of the stunning dispatches... in a book called Nothing to Envy on everyday lives in North Korea. [A] recurring theme is the ritual disappearance of the unlucky loved ones of those North Koreans who fail to bring honor to the state.
A soccer spectator should not have to worry about the bodily well-being of a losing athlete's family at the hands of his government. This is wrong. If we do have to worry, it raises a bigger question: why was that government allowed to compete in an international tournament at all?