N.Korea's Secret Weapon in the World Cup

      June 15, 2010 11:46

      North Korea will play against Brazil at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the first match of the "group of death" G. North Korea, which made it to the World Cup for the first time in 44 years, is ranked 105th in the world by FIFA, the lowest among the 32 teams.

      The North's sole hope is top striker Jong Tae-se, dubbed the "People's Rooney." It seems the most logical for North Korea to batten down its defense and wait for opportunities against star-studded world's No. 1 Brazil.

      Jong's aggressive offense earned him the nickname after English forward Wayne Rooney. He is indispensable in the North Korean offensive. A third generation Korean Japanese, Jong plays for Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.

      With his candid interviews in the international media, whose thirst for any piece of information about enigmatic North Korea is never sufficiently quenched, he has become something of a minor celebrity. Unlike other North Korean players, Jong is also friendly with South Korean reporters.

      Jong Tae-se (second left) celebrates with his teammate after scoring a goal in a friendly against Greece in Austria on May 26. /AP-Yonhap

      In a recent interview, he said, "North Korea has the best team spirit in the world. We can beat Brazil, we have courage."

      He has quite a large fan base in South Korea, and has contributed a piece to South Korean portal site Naver. "I had a lot of thoughts watching videotapes of North Korean team playing its way to the quarterfinal in the 1966 World Cup in England," he wrote. "I want to surprise the world again."

      The other teams in Group G are Portugal and Côte d'Ivoire.

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