We’ve all seen the emotional breakdowns that some athletes have when their dreams of gold are dashed by big losses. But for North Korean Olympic athletes, the consequences of a loss might go beyond the empty place on their mantle where they wanted a gold medal to be. There is a lot of speculation that for North Koreans, gold medals are rewarded with items like cars and televisions—items that most North Koreans are not privy to. But losses can result in athletes being put into labor camps.
The conditions in North Korean labor camps are no picnic, either. Reports of horrible conditions, methods of torture and starvation, and extreme levels of physical labor in harsh and dangerous environments are common. It is not confirmed that athletes will face this kind of treatment if they fail to qualify or to win medals, but it has been speculated that such treatment was—and potentially continues to be—the case for years.
Thus far in the 2012 Games, the North Koreans are doing quite well. They have won 1 bronze and 4 golds and are placed 8th overall. Maybe this ‘good behavior’ will mean that the whole lot of them will be exempt from the camps this year, but who knows if it will be enough to reward them with luxury items like refrigerators. Of course, they might not have any need for refrigerators, given how much the country is currently struggle to feed its population. Regardless of the results, it seems apparent that the North Koreans have additional incentives, and thus pressure, when competing. Let’s hope that they continue to do well this year, for the competitors’ sakes!
Read more here:
The Huffington Post: North Korea Olympic Athletes Face Reward or Punishment At Home
Masks are Becoming Essential Beach Wear in China
For many people in the western world, summer time is all about soaking up the sun and getting as tan as possible (up to the point where they start looking like Snookie). Sunblock is the enemy, and bikini’s get smaller and smaller each year to minimize tan lines (or at least that’s what people say…).
Head to any populous beach today and you’ll find tons of people lying about and bronzing it up. But visit any beach in China, and you’ll find yourself looking at people enjoying the sun, sand, and surf while wearing…masks? It’s a rather unsettling sight to behold, but many women chose to wear masks to protect their skin. So dedicated are they to fending off UV rays that many of them are willing to risk the fact that children run away from them in fear for the sake of solar protection.
Unlike in the western world, the Chinese place a high value on pale skin. For them, dark skin is a sigh of peasantry, as it implies that one works outside. This phenomenon has been ongoing for years, but now there are industries catering to this fetish. Parasols and high SPF sunblock are often the items of choice for preventing a tan, but now the ski mask look is becoming increasingly popular, especially among older middle-class women. And the facemasks are not exclusively a beach item. Women can be seen sporting them while riding bikes or doing other activities where they do not have a hand free to hold a parasol.
Some people will even go as far as wearing full wet suits on the beach to prevent any sun exposure. It certainly is an interesting sight to behold. The masks and suits also come in a variety of colors, like pink, green, and orange. The result of this, however, makes the women look a little bit less like out of place bank robbers and a little bit more like underweight WrestleMania competitors.
Read more here:
The New York Times- In China, Sun Protection Can Include a Mask