North Korean athletes are not only fighting for medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, but also their livelihoods.
Athletes who attend international competition are considered heroes to the country if they win, however they are considered failures and even betrayers if they perform poorly.
Even when the North Korean soccer team made a miraculous run to the quarterfinals of the 1966 World Cup, they didn’t escape punishment. Because they did not win the tournament, some of the players were imprisoned, even though they made country history.
When the North Korean soccer team attended the 2010 World Cup and lost all 3 matches, the players and coaches were subject to investigation and possible punishment.
North Korean athletes won a total of 7 medals at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Gold medal winners can receive luxuries such as apartments in Pyongyang, cars, and other gifts.
Currently, North Korean athletes have not won a single medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and likely will not win one in the remaining events.
The closest North Korea came to medaling was in the figure skating pair event, where Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik placed 13th.