The South Korean national football team, aiming for its first Asian Games gold medal in 24 years, lost to North Korea in its first match at the Guangzhou Asian Games on Monday.
The Asian Games officially begins on Friday, but the football preliminaries began earlier due to the high number of matches to be played.
In the Group C opening match at Yuexiushan Stadium, the South gave up a goal to North Korea's Ri Kwang-chon in the 36th minute of the first half and failed to equalize in the face of the North's resilient defense.
North Korea surprised many onlookers with tight defensive walls and brilliant saves from the goal keeper, despite its underdog record against the South of one win, six losses and seven draws. Ten of its players on the pitch on Monday were from the North's 2010 World Cup squad.
On the other hand, the South Korean team is not at its strongest and mainly consists of young players under the age of 21. Park Chu-young, who plays for AS Monaco, could not make the match because his team released him too late, and Ki Sung-yong, who plays for Celtic in Scotland, is not able to play in the Asiad because his club declined to let him leave during the season.
Despite Monday's loss, the South still has a shot at making it to the best-of-16 round as the other teams in Group C, Jordan and Palestine, are not considered strong contenders.
There are 24 countries competing in football in the Asian Games, divided into six groups of four teams. The top two finishers of each group and the four third-place teams with the best records will advance to the next round. South Korea faces Jordan on Wednesday and Palestine on Saturday.