by STEVE HAN | @steve_han
Amid young leader Kim Jong-un’s incessant passion for basketball, North Korea is amping up efforts to ingrain sports into the daily lives of its citizens in the hermit kingdom.
A recent Yonhap News Agency report cited a North Korean official who said that the country is encouraging the citizens to play sports, such as basketball and soccer to “boost industrial output” and “strengthen national defense.” North Korea’s communist regime has even launched a new sports-exclusive government ministry, called the National Sports Guidance Committee, to promote sports among its people.
The ministry’s role is to set up to support the practice of playing sports at workplaces in various cities and counties within North Korea, according to Ri Chi-ung, vice director of the country’s Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports. Ri added that sports could help develop the impoverished country’s halting economy.
“People find themselves [to] do their work better amidst the sporting zeal,” Ri reportedly said. “And it gives full play to collectivism, and the love for their working places and home villages is going up remarkably.”
He added, “They feel more pleasant at their jobs and the spirit of helping and leading one another forward is prevailing in the factory. All this gives great energy to the effort to fulfill the national economic plan.”
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is known to have picked up his love for basketball while he was studying in Switzerland during his teens. A fan of Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the mid-90s, he even held an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang last year with former NBA star Dennis Rodman.
Featured image via Quazoo.com: North Korea national under-20 soccer team