September 28, 2014

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) North Korea's athletes at the Asian Games, reportedly feeling homesick while competing in South Korea, have held a special ''longing for the leader'' gathering to express how much they miss their homeland.

The gathering Saturday featured songs and poems praising leader Kim Jong Un, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency.

The report said that at the gathering, called an ''Evening longing for respected Marshal Kim Jong Un Kim,'' Sports Minister Kim Yong Hun said that while they have only been away from the leader for about a week, ''the minds of all members of the delegation and players are running to him, whom they long to see, awake or asleep.''

Among the musical selections they sang were ''We Cannot Live Without You'' and ''Warm Feelings,'' which KCNA said reflects ''the single-minded unity'' of all North Koreans who share ''the unbreakable blood ties'' to Kim.

It added that a poem offered to Kim by one of the athletes left everyone ''mesmerized.''

The North has sent a 273-member delegation to the games, a regional Olympics, in the South Korean port city of Incheon. They are faring quite well so far, setting several world records in weightlifting, collecting golds in shooting and gymnastics and advancing through the qualifiers in the football competition.

The team and its officials have also taken every opportunity to display their unique brand of leader worship while in the South.

After every medal, North Korea's athletes have without fail dedicated their performances to the ''loving care'' of Kim Jong Un, a North Korean ritual that has puzzled many South Koreans, who have nevertheless given the North's team a warm welcome and generally supported them with loud cheers.

The report of the gathering Saturday was typical of how the athletes' participation in the games has been portrayed in North Korea.

Though the successes of their country's athletes have been reported in detail, the North's media has made little or no mention of how the South Koreans are faring and has completely avoided any descriptions or details about the country where the games are taking place.

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