A couple of weeks ago, when FIFA announced that they would be conducting an "investigation" into charges that the Worlds' Largest Concentration Camp (AKA North Korea) had abused and/or punished the players and coach of their national soccer team for disappointing the countries' Lunatic-in-Chief, I think most of us were a bit surprised.
Of course, as we all know, FIFA's number one, cardinal, most inviolate rule - sometimes it seems like the only one they actually take seriously - is the one forbidding "government interference" in football affairs.
Countries as disparate as Iraq, France, Bahrain, Bangladesh and Spain have all been suspended or threatened with same for involving themselves in even minor ways with their own national federations' business.
(A cynic would suggest that the main reason for this has nothing to do with sporting principle and everything to do with Sepp Blatters' concerns about what would happen if a country - any country - decided to look into FIFA's accounts, but I'm positive that couldn't be it at all)
Still, as we all know, North Korea is different, partly because they're more paranoid than a hooker in a nunnery and were likely to see any real investigation as a declaration of war by the plutocratic running dog hegemonists of the west (not that FIFA HQ in Zurich wouldn't make a terrific test site for those nukes Kim Jong-il is cooking up, but the collateral damage would be unfortunate. Or maybe not).
The danger of an Alpine nuclear winter notwithstanding, pressure from around the world forced FIFA to take action or risk looking like the worst kind of hypocrites, and so they boldly announced that they were going to get to the bottom of it all.
Late Wednesday, they concluded their inquiry.
But if you had visions of planeloads of international officials descending on Pyongyang, occupying every luxury hotel suite, filling every five star restaurant and monopolizing every high-end prostitute in town while they turned over every rock in a quest for the truth, I'm afraind you're going to be disappointed.
No, not because Pyongyang has absolutely none of those things or because the DPRK has a fairly sophisticated air defense system that would have blown all those planes out of the sky.
It's because FIFA chose a different approach.
Rather than waste their time scouring the back alleys of The Peoples' Paradise in search of a decent bottle of Montrachet, they decided the best way to handle this problem was to send North Korea a letter asking if any of the rumors were true.
North Korea has now responded, telling FIFA that...well, read FIFA's media release for yourself:
Following a request for information sent by FIFA to the Korea DPR Football Association on 11 August, FIFA can now confirm that it has received a letter from the Korea DPR Football Association as a reply to that request for information.
In the letter, the Korea DPR FA assures FIFA that Mr Kim Jong Hun, head coach of the national team, and all the other members of the national team are training as usual and that the members of the team will soon take part in the 16th Asian Games. The association also indicates that there were no sanctions to the coach and that the reports on this matter were baseless.
I don't know about you, but that certainly makes me feel much, much better.
Just goes to show:
When the going gets tough, the tough send a registered letter.