How North Korea prepared for the Hangzhou Asian Games after nearly four years of closing its borders to contain the coronavirus. North Korea closed its borders in early 2020 to stem the flow of COVID-19, and the country missed the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the following year, earning it a suspension from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until 2022.Despite not being able to compete on the international stage to publicly prove their mettle, the team has been working hard to fill the void .For example, the country has been organizing nationwide sports tournaments, regardless of the sport, in an effort to maintain a “hands-on” feel as the lockdown is gradually lifted. Soccer, which is considered to be doing well at the Asian Games, utilizes a league under the North Korean Football Association, the country’s version of the K League. The league, which consists of the first division for both men and women, as well as the second and third divisions, runs from December to October of the following year. After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league resumed the 2021-2022 season in the second half of last year. In April, it held the National Taekwondo Championships for the Spring 2023 National Sports Festival, in which more than 400 athletes participated. Two months later, the Labor Party’s official newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, scolded its executives, saying, “The lack of progress in taekwondo technology and performance is due to the lack of progress in the perspective and attitude of the workers toward the sports business.” Training and coaching programs to improve athletes’ skills were not neglected .A case in point is the Pyongyang International Soccer School, which is considered a key training base for the North Korean men’s soccer team competing at the Asian Games .Established in 2013 on the ridge of Pyongyang as part of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “athletic powerhouse” initiative, the school has touted its efforts to develop athletes by constantly introducing new technologies. “The school focuses its training on developing students into intelligent and creative athletes,” the propaganda outlet Rodong Sinmun said in June, adding that it is “putting all its efforts into improving their tactical awareness and ability to cope with changing game conditions.” The North Korean Olympic Committee held a general assembly earlier this year, after the country became eligible to compete in international events, to discuss “continuing to accelerate the work to increase the number of medals won at international events. “North Korea has used the popularization of athletics as a means of “regime cohesion” under the watchful eye of its leader, Kim Jong Un, who is known as a “sports fanatic .The country has been actively organizing various mass sporting events, which were previously closed to the public due to high levels of quarantine, in an effort to generate enthusiasm for the sport. The appointment of Cabinet Secretary Kim Deok-hoon as the chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee earlier this year also reflects the government’s intention to be more active in 스포츠토토링크 external sports exchanges and cooperation.