Members of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Pirates are probably very happy the United States does not treat its losing athletes like they reportedly do in North Korea. Following North Korea's three losses at the World Cup, the team had to undergo a six-hour inquisition, publicly shaming them, according to reports.
The entire squad was forced onto a stage and berated as 400 government officials, students and journalists watched. The players were subjected to a "grand debate" because they failed in their "ideological struggle" to succeed, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported.
The reports claim the team's coach was punished for "betraying" Kim Jong-un -- one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il's sons and his heir apparent.
And get this: The head coach of the team was forced to become a construction worker and has been expelled from the Workers' Party of Korea. Players were also forced to blame the coach for the defeats.
As humiliating as this all sounds, it apparently could have been far, far worse. "In the past, North Korean athletes and coaches who performed badly were sent to prison camps," a South Korean intelligence source said.
The North Korean government did not show much confidence in the team going into the tournament -- it's first since 1966 -- because it banned the live broadcast of the games to avoid national embarrassment. But after a surprisingly close 2-1 defeat at the hands of international powerhouse Brazil, state television decided to broadcast the following game, making it the nation's first live sports broadcast ever.
North Korea lost that game in a crushing blowout -- 7-0 to Portugal, and a public repudiation of the team was apparently necessary.