South Africa, China and the North Korean Football team

With the soon-to-start World Cup in South Africa, it is our China Filers’ hope that you’re still wondering why we’re writing this post when China has not even qualified –and is probably still paddling into corruption affairs. Well, while most eyes will be following the conventional teams –Brasil, France, Italy, Spain- our trained ones will bet on the North Korean one…and its Chinese supporters !

Yes, you read us right ! Since leaving North Korea isn’t exactly a possible thing for the country’s football fans to do and travelling all the way to South Africa just to witness their team being served as the sacrificial lamb to the ‘Group of Death’, may not be the best reason to do it, the Beijing office of the North Korean Sports Committee has begun to distribute 1 000 tickets to members of the ‘Chinese Star Football Team’, a cheerleading group of famous actors, comedians and singers dubbed the ‘fans volunteer army’.

Of course, we could’ve kept it a secret as most of us can’t see the difference between a Korean, a Chinese and a Japanese fan, what with the black hair and the walnut eyes. But as the Chinese sport columnist Qi Ge writes : ‘the passion of the People’s Volunteers of the 1950’s still exists in our hearts, so we should support North Korea at the World Cup’. And so, they will…and needless to say the ‘Red’ team will need all the support they can get…

…or do they ? Much like its country, the North Korean squad is a mystery to all observers and whether football commentators recognise publicly their ignorance – like the China Central Television speaker- or not – like all the other ones- about the players, the tactics and methods, should we really underestimate them ? Of course, this is only their second participation to the World Cup but as we go back in time, their first one is still a painful memory to all Italians.

At the 1966 World Cup in England, the mighty Italians were thrown out of the competition in the qualifications rounds by the hungry North Koreans. Hungry, we said ! While the term is often used to describe players who have an insatiable appetite to win, in the case of the North Korean team, it might actually be literally true. And if they fail to impress, they could go hungry for some time. If that’s not incentive, i don’t know what is.

Let’s also not underestimate the team’s Great Leader, the man with the fashionable sunglasses, otherwise know as Kim Jong-il. According to Kim Jong-su of the never-heard-before North Korean Football Association, ‘the Great Leader gave an in-depth guidance on the development of the Korean Football. He proposed the game’s tactics most relevant for the physiological characteristics of the Korean players’. Now that’s a leader.

So our hopes are up for the Red Team because if Kim passes on his erratic and unpredictable behaviour to his team, it would be sane to completely disregard everything you may have seen in qualifications and friendlies. What you see is not always what you get when the Great Leader is involved.

Do we sense a hint of interest for the North Korean team ? The team whose trainer wears the Kim Il-sung’s badge – a must for every North Korean-, the team who has everything to loose, the team who no one ever saw smile, the team that doesn’t want a refrigerator, as Choe Myong-ho eloquently stated : ‘What’s a refrigerator for ? It allows you to get cold drinks in the summer. And if you do that, you could catch a cold and not be able to train’. Yeah, in the Group of Death, our money’s on that team.

Well, let’s at least agree that the Pyongyang boys are not going to South Africa for vacation…well, South Africa’s border’s ! The North Korean team will train and cultivate the mystery in the neighbouring Zimbabwe. North Korea and Zimbabwe actually have a long term relationship. In 1974, Pyongyang sent a corps of its army to train Mugabe’s soldiers and allow him to take the throne of the country. More recently, we learn that elephants are to be sold by the African state to the recluse Asian.

In four –chinese- cheers : ‘Chaoxian, Jiayou’ (Go, North Korea in Chinese). The dictators’ pride is at stake on the global stage so don’t underestimate the ONE man that won’t buy the broadcasting rights to the South’s SBS…what kind of country doesn’t allow its people to watch a football match anyway?
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To put it in Churchill words:"North Korea is a riddle wrapped in a mistery inside an enigma". Looking forward to seeing them at the World Cup. Thanks for the article though,didn't know about the chinese fans thing!

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