N.Korean Footballers Got Special Attention from Heir Apparent

      June 17, 2010 08:43

      The North Korean team performed well in its World Cup opener against the world's strongest team Brazil in Group G in South Africa on Wednesday. Brazil struggled to get through North Korea's defense but won 2-1.

      A North Korean broadcaster based in Seoul attributed the better-than-expected performance to encouragement from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent Jong-un.

      Ha Tae-kyoung of shortwave station Open Radio for North Korea quoted several North Korean sources as saying Kim junior visited training camps of the North Korean national soccer players in April and May to boost players' morale.

      In April, Kim Jong-un reportedly instructed the coach to make the team "invincible" in both offense and defense. He also granted all players membership in the Workers Party, a special favor which spares them convoluted admission procedures. In early May, Kim Jong-un visited training camp again in Pyongyang to promise the players gifts if they achieve good results in the World Cup.

      North Korean spectators celebrate as their national football team scores a goal against Brazil in the first round of the World Cup in South Africa early Wednesday morning. /Yonhap

      A North Korean source predicted players will be named heroes, which nets them homes and cars, if they manage to make it to the round of 16. This is only the second time North Korea has made it into the World Cup since 1966, when it advanced to the quarterfinals.

      The North's official KCNA news agency reported on the North Korea-Brazil match on Wednesday about four hours after it was finished, relatively very fast compared to earlier reports on games between foreign teams, when it took a day or two.

      "In the 88th minute, Jong Tae-se's header found Ji Yun-nam, who rushed onward and rifled the ball into the goal," it said, but failed to say how the Brazilian team had earlier scored two goals.

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