But the consequence of loss is greater if the athletes lose to countries in conflict like the ROK and the US.
One North Korean defector stated at an interview that Shin Ui-gun, coach of North Korea's women's football team, will be criticized for the loss to the US at the London Olympics.
Moreover, North Korean defectors testified that if athletes lose a match, they are held responsible as if they had lost in a battle. Matches against Korea and the US is almost always considered as a war that needs to be won at all cost.
North Korean athletes are participating in sports not from sportsmanship, but from the fear of Kim Jong-Un's punishments. Is this even possible, and sensible? Some say this kind of rumor is from the negative perception of North Korea, but we are talking about North Korea, here. I think it's very probable because the 3 generation of Kim dictators gained the know-how of threatening and forcing people.