By Nick Butler

North Korea has criticised the West for damaging the sport of weightlifting ©AFP / Getty ImagesNovember 20 - The "depraved capitalist system" of the West has damaged the sport of weightlifting and put commercial interests ahead of national honour, according to the official North Korean Government news agency KCNA.

Weightlifting has long been one of North Korea's most successful Olympic sports and they won three gold medals at London 2012, putting them high on the medals table during the early days of the Games.

They also won 19 medals at the 2013 World Championships in Wroclaw, Poland, including two titles for Om Yun chol to add to his Olympic victory at London 2012.

The sport has also been a way for North Korea to reach a level of cordiality with neighbours and bitter enemy South Korea - with whom they are still officially at war - after competitors from the latter competed at the Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship in Pyongyang in September.

This was the first time South Koreans had competed north of the border since the division was installed in the aftermath of the Second World War. 

However, as the latest comments reflect, sport is also a way for North Korea to express the credentials of its own communist system in comparison with the Western equivalent. 

Om Yun-chol is the reigning Olympic and World 56kg champion ©Getty ImagesOm Yun-chol is the reigning Olympic and World 56kg champion in one of North Korea's strongest disciplines ©Getty Images

The KCNA, the only North Korean news agency, reported that a former unnamed coach on the United States team had said it was impossible to make a living from weightlifting in his country as the development of sport was driven by what people liked to watch, not the pursuit of Olympic gold medals.

"His remarks give a glimpse of American society where sport is abused as a means for moneymaking," the state agency said.

"As a matter of fact, in capitalist society the national sports development depends on market, not on the state policy, and making money is regarded more important than to display nation's honour."

It was also said that coaches and lifters from Britain and France bemoaned the lack of support for weightlifting in their countries.

"This is a tragedy produced by the depraved capitalist system in which money decides everything," it added 

Although these comments appear skewed by this political agenda it is true that America and Western Europe did not perform well in the sport at the World Championships. 

With the exception of one bronze medal for Spain no country from these regions won a medal, with Asia and Eastern Europe filling the majority of podium positions.