Why North Korea Is Really Winning the Games
China's merely second, depending on how you count
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2012 12:18 PM CDT
Kim Kum Sok of North Korea competes during the men's 69-kg weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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(Newser) – The country really winning the Olympics is ... North Korea? If you've been following the Games you know that China and the US have been neck-and-neck in the medals count (with the gold-medal advantage going to China), but in a blog post spotted by the Pacific Standard, politics professor Seth Masket argues that "probably the fairest way" to compare countries is by how many medals they've won per competing athlete. The result? North Korea is on top, followed by China and Japan, with the US in fourth.

Masket also ran the numbers of medals per million citizens. In that chart, Hungary comes out on top, North Korea is third, and China is dead last. In still another, he divides medals by GDP, to see which countries are overachieving their wealth. North Korea slaughters the competition on that chart, while the US is dead last. The implication is pretty clear: Countries like the US and China dominate in part because they have bigger populations, more athletes, and more wealth.