Playing Ping Pong in Pyongyang
When we think of North Korea our minds don’t automatically think of ping pong. This is understandable. It can be a difficult for us to imagine the normal life of a North Korean when all we hear from the media is an oppressive regime.
This article isn’t about the regime. It’s about something else equally as important to North Koreans as the government itself, and that is ping pong.
Watching ping pong in Pyongyang was the wakeup call I needed, and one that made me realize we can hear about somewhere our entire lives and yet know nothing about it. You may be surprised to know that they are home to some of the best ping pong tables you will find around the world, some of them listed here. Some of these are very expensive.
Much of this country is so shrouded in mystery that a lot of us think we have a solid knowledge on the happenings inside the country, when in fact all of we know is what the media portrays it to be.
We when were in North Korea, even our hotel had a ping pong table for the guests to enjoy during their stay. The room also included several pictures depicting the success of their champions during competition and you couldn’t help but get into the spirit of the game.
Others have also reported on ping pong in North Korea, particularly it’s importance in their history. If you look at the national interests, they align with anywhere else, and nothing provides more evidence of this than their national sports, particularly ping pong.
Ping pong is the game of North Korea and many of it’s citizens identify with it. In fact, becoming a champion ping pong player in North Korea is as well respected as becoming a professional sportsman anywhere else in the world.
So proud are they of their ping pong players that a game offers a rare opportunity for western journalists to enter the country and report on what they see. It’s an amazing experience. One thing you’ll realize very quickly is that the crowd will celebrate in an almost rehearsed way that can make western tourists feel as though we are almost insulting spectators.
Seeing a ping pong game in Pyongyang was actually was actually an eye opening experience. Not least because of the fact it was in North Korea, but the type of encouragement and support the supporters provided the ping pong players made me think that when western media calls out players instead of supporting them that in fact we are the ones in the wrong.