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Call for flag mix-up to be explained
18:34 AEST Thu Jul 26 2012

Embarrassed Olympic officials say they will apologise for a flag mix-up before North Korea's opening women's game against Colombia, with the Asian team's coach questioning whether it was deliberate.

North Korea's players left the field before the match on Wednesday night after their images were shown on the big screen at Hampden Park alongside the South Korean flag, regarded as a big insult in their country.

Following their interrupted warm-up the North Korea team eventually returned to the field after the error was corrected and the right flag was displayed.

They went on to win the game 2-0 with both goals coming from Song Hui Kim.

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.

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

"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."

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."

In a statement, LOCOG apologised for the mix-up.

"Clearly this is a mistake, we will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again," it said.

South Korea and North Korea exist as neighbours but have a far from harmonious relationship.

The countries were formally established as separate entities in 1948, and the Korean War began in 1950.

Only two years ago, North Korean artillery shells killed four people, two from the military and two civilians, on Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea.

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