North Korea caused a lot of excitement before the 1970 World Championships. The country’s gymnasts were supposed to compete, which left many gymnastics pundits speculating about North Korea’s chances of placing in the men’s competition. For example, this is what a Swiss newspaper wrote:
The Koreans, in the opinion of Bulgarian specialists, who visited them, do not train less than eight hours a day, at the rate of five practices per week, and, when one knows their natural gifts, one can be certain that their participation “will hurt.” From there, we will have, in our opinion, a peloton comprising the United States, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Switzerland fighting for 5th place.L’Express, Oct. 22, 1970
Les Coréens, de l’avis de spécialistes bulgares, qui les visitèrent, ne s’entraînent pas moins de huit heures par jour, à raison de cinq entraînements par semaine et, lorsqu’on connaît leurs dons naturels, on peut être certain que leur entrée « fera mal ». Dès lors, on aura, à notre avis, un peloton comprenant, les Etats-Unis, la Tchécoslovaquie, la Pologne et la Suisse luttant pour la 5me place.
North Korea’s road to participating in FIG competitions and events was a bumpy one, to say the least. While it was hard to gain information on North Korean gymnastics in the 1960s, one story was reported extensively.
At the end of June 1966, the FIG hosted a judges’ course in Tokyo. North Korean delegates were supposed to attend, but there were some hiccups. Let’s take a look at what happened.