BEIJING: Tears streaming and biting his lip to stop himself from bawling, the striker Jung Tae-se was unable to sing as his teammates belted out, ”Let’s devote our body and heart for this glorious Korea.”And devote their bodies and hearts they did. Malnourished North Korea – ranked 105th in the world of soccer – held the world’s best and most flamboyant team, Brazil, to no score at half time before gallantly going down 2-1. They gave the world a glimpse of grit and patriotism inside the world’s most secretive, oppressive and perhaps miserable nation.”I saw the North Korean national flag rising and, finally, I had made the World Cup,” said Jung, explaining yesterday why he had cried as he lined up to sing the anthem before North Korea’s first World Cup match in 44 years.In Beijing, opposite the east gate of North Korea’s vast embassy in Beijing, a grocery store owner shook his head with awe at the performance he had stayed up all night to watch. ”They were so strong-willed, hard-playing … what a comparison with the Chinese national team,” he said. ”The [North Korean players] came to my shop after … a training camp at Xiang He [a Chinese national team facility], before heading to South Africa, and they told me: ‘How terrific your facilities are, how can you not play well?”’The way the North Korean team’s leaders tell it, the secrets behind their football revival are not limited to steely determination and methodical preparation. Kim Jung-su, the secretary of the North Korean Soccer Association, has previously credited the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, for ”profound” tactical advice such as ”consider each player’s physical characteristics”. North Korea’s most deadly football weapons, however, were made in Japan.Jung Tae-se – the striker who cried before the match and set up the country’s goal – and two other teammates were raised in the 600,000-strong ethnic Korean ”Zainichi” community in Japan. Their ancestors came (or were taken from) Korea during Japan’s 35-year-occupation in the first half of last century.The crowd at the match was a sea of yellow and green, punctuated by two small clusters of red-uniformed Koreans who looked as if they had been drafted straight from the Pyongyang bureaucracy. North Korea reportedly sold most of its modest allocation of tickets to tour agencies in China.
南京夜网