To be clear, it wasn’t some kind of political snub. Samsung actually tried to deliver the phones to their intended recipients. But, according to sources inside the Olympic Village, the North Korean team’s manager confiscated the devices. Apparently the North Korean Olympic Committee decided the athletes shouldn’t receive the phones because they might provide access to, you know, the outside world or something.
As Radio Free Asia reports, an “IOC press official speculated that the manager took the phones out of concern that the North Korean athletes would gain access to the Samsung exhibition where the company displayed South Korean electronics.” According to South Korean athletes that have competed against North Koreans in the past, managers frequently intercept gifts intended for the players, whether they are of South Korean origin or not.