The history of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (or "North Korea" to most of us) is a highly controversial subject. The formation of the country was controversial and ever since the subject has been difficult to fully understand.
As we're not a political site (in any form) we refuse to add to the fire of the Korean debate however as a boxing site we will give credit to North Korean fighters where we can, as we do with fighters from any part of Asia. One such fighter is Li Byong-Uk, who despite never having a professional career has left his mark on boxing history.
Li, aged just 21 at the time, was part of the 1976 Olympic boxing team sent by North Korea to Montreal. Just 4 years earlier in Munich Kim U-Gil had managed to claim a silver medal losing in the final to Hungarian György Gedó.
At Montreal Li managed to battle his way to the Light Flyweight final defeating Canadian Sidney McKnight in the opening round before defeating Henryk Średnicki (Poland), Armando Guevara (Venezuela) and Payao Poontarat (Thailand).
In the final Li faced the excellent Cuban Jorge Hernandez who had claimed gold at the 1974 World Amateur Championships. Unfortunately the class difference between Li and Hernandez was clear and the Cuban claimed a very clear decision over the North Korean.
Rather than taking silver medal and walking away from the sport of boxing Li continued to fight on and actually had reall success over the following few years and by 1980 he had claimed gold medals at both the 1978 and 1979 Army Championships, a gold at the 1979 Gryf Szczeciński and a gold at the TSC Tournament.
Li's success following the 1976 Olympics had helped him make his way to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. This time, aged 25 and with a wealth more experience behind him some were tipping him to go one better than he had in Montreal.
With a number of countries boycotting the Moscow games it appeared that Li was a hot favourite for a medal.
Li would defeat Henryk Pielesiak (Poland) and then Gilberto Sosa (Mexico) as he moved to within a single bout of becoming the first ever North Korean fight to medal at 2 Olympics.
A victory over Dumitru Şchiopu (Romania) confirmed that Li would claim at least a bronze. In the semi final Li would face the home fighter Shamil Sabirov (USSR) who was the reigning European champion. Sabirov would unfortunately end Li's dreams of claiming an Olympic gold by scoring a very definitive 5-0 victory over Li, before taking the gold medal himself with a victory over Hipolito Ramos (Cuba) in the final.
Following the loss in the 1980 Olympic games it's difficult to actually track what Li has done, but as North Korea's only boxing 2-time Olympic medal winner his place in the history books is well and truly sealed.