The Olympic Games is one of the few occasions where the world can come together and enjoy a peaceful competition and Samsung, one of its main sponsors, developed a special phone for the athletes. The 2016 Rio Games were not without political controversy, as few games are because the phones meant for the North Korean athletes were confiscated.
Samsung, one of the biggest companies in the world is best known for their Galaxy brand of smartphones. As one of the main sponsors this year’s competition, they created an Olympic Galaxy S7 Edge edition of their newest handset. The total 12,500 units of limited edition smartphones were intended for athletes and staff as a way to enhance their experience of the competition.
A number of those devices, those meant for the North Korean team, never reached the athletes despite the devices being picked up by an authorized person from the delegation. When an athlete from North Korea was asked if she received the smartphone, she simply noded in silence. Further investigation concluded that the manager of the delegation made sure that not one of the 31 athletes from North Korea received their device. The decision came from the North Korean Olympic Committee.
The main reason for their decision was that the smartphones are produced by Samsung, a company based in South Korea, a country with whom North Korea is still at odds with. Though the Korean Peninsula enjoys a relative state of peace between the two former feuding nations, the animosity between them is still very prevalent because of their different political ideologies.
The smartphone, a device which facilitates access to the internet complicates matters. North Korea has adopted an isolationist policy overall, strictly regulating citizens’ contact with outsiders as well as any external information sources. It has even developed its own Red Start operating system which is tightly monitored as an attempt to prevent any external influences.
According to an anonymous source within the North Korean delegation, North Korea tends to always confiscate the gifts received by their athletes during international competition no matter their origin.
Samsung has not made any official comment regarding the confiscation of their devices, but the phones have not been returned to them.
What do you think about North Korea’s decision?
Image source: YouTube Images