In response to my Grantland Olympic piece with LeBron, a few people have asked why we didn't specifically discuss the Koreas. Maybe I'm missing the question, but the basic economic model seems to explain them very well.
From the 2000 games to date (including what has happened in London), North Korea has won 20 total Summer Olympic medals, while South Korea has pocketed 101.
South Korea has almost twice the population of the North (48.5 million to 22.6 million) and a per-capita income that is more than 15 times greater ($31,700 to $1,800).
Of North Koreas 20 medals, 15 have come in weightlifting and judo. These are examples of the "easy-pickings" sports we discussed in the piece. South Korea is also strong in tae-kwon-do and archery.