June 23, 2010 11:43
After the complete rout of North Korea by Portugal on Monday in their second match of the World Cup, some observers have seized on the opportunity to blame North Korean leader Kim Jong-il personally.
The license was provided by a claim by the team's coach Kim Jong-hun that the dictator "gives regular tactical advice during matches using mobile phones that are not visible to the naked eye." The coach added the fantasy device was invented by Kim Jong-il himself.
"Given the way the North Korean regime works, a football coach can't just mention Kim Jong-il's name and talk about him as he likes," a South Korean official said. "The invisible-mobile-phone part may be silly, but it's probably true that Kim Jong-il's orders are delivered to the coach."
A source who knows Kim Jong-hun's playing style very well said that the match against Portugal was not played in a way the North Korean coach wanted and that he must have been pressured from someone outside. "Kim Jong-hun, who is composed and laid-back, adheres to defense-oriented tactics since he was formerly a defender, but North Korea played an unreasonable offense-oriented tactics at the time when the gap was widening," the source said.
It appears that North Korea had high hopes of the game, which it broadcast live for the first time in its history. Kim Yong-hyun, a professor at Dongguk University, said, "The North Korean leadership seems to have wanted to consolidate its hold and look for ways to turn the tables through a victory in the World Cup as it is struggling both economically and diplomatically." Another government official said, "The brave display of discipline against Brazil on June 16 raised the bar for the North Korean team and instilled extravagant hopes in people."
The atmosphere in the North is said to be subdued after the rout. Kim Sung-min, who heads radio channel Free North Korea Radio, said, "We contacted North Koreans, and they said that they feel let down and upset. There are people who said they were so upset that they drank themselves senseless and that they can never forgive the players."
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