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Posted by Daniel Cho on 06/15/2010

Since there isn't a North Korea correspondent for ESPN Soccernet, I feel obligated to write at least a few sentences on the Brazil - North Korea match. Putting the most current political drama and differences aside - for those who are not aware of the (sad) history and situation of the Korea Peninsula, I do want to stress that NK is still South Korea's brother, and I do look forward to seeing a unified Korea sometime in the near future. I will be rooting for them for their remaining World Cup matches, and hope you will get behind them, too.

In fact, I predict North and South Koreas in the World Cup final!!!! ...Haha, just kidding. Just checking to see you were paying attention.

Brazil 2 - 1 North Korea
Before the match started, we all knew how Brazil were going to come out and play. ...To play like Brazilians. But after the match, the focus of the match is all about North Korea's well-executed defense.

I do give North Korea A LOT of credit for their hard-fought effort against the 97-time (or something like that) world champions Brazil. NK's team defense was hard to penetrate, and the Koreans kept the game scoreless, and kept Dunga and Brazil fans nervous ...until Maicon's masterful 55th "Brazuka" squeeze.

The confidence generated from that led to Elano's goal, which was nicely assisted by Robinho, but the North Koreans still ended the match with a smile. Ji Yun-Nam's 89th minute goal was practically gifted thanks to defensive errors, but still - it was a well-deserved consolation prize.

Just like everyone else, I have very little knowledge on North Korean football, but I did know about #9 Jung Dae-Seh (or Jong Tae-Se - however you want to spell it)'s amazing speed. And it was obvious that the Brazilians too were fore-warned about him - the defenders were all over him, and didn't give much space for him to work with. Because of this, the frustrated Japan-based forward (he was born, raised, and plays professionally there) ended up repeatedly blasting cannon shots that were way off target.

Despite the loss, it was not a lost cause, in my view. Every "expert" on every publications I've read dismissed NK as if they were high school JV basketball team playing against 3 top NBA teams - without ever having seen them play once (OK, I don't know that - but how many times have you seen North Korea play?). The ever-improving AFC is now harder to qualify out of, especially with the difficult away games in the Middle Eastern countries (they're just as passionate about football as much as anyone in the world). With South Korea and Japan winning their first group matches, and with North Korea's display today, I hope Asian football will be viewed with a little more respect. Un poco, por favor...

Congrats to North Korea for the good fight against the world's best. Losing by one goal against Brazil is a great achievement, by any standard. And if they were able to keep up this well against the Brazilians, I wouldn't completely rule out an upset against Ivory Coast or Potugal.

Oh - and now that Ivory Coast vs Portugal ended up in a 0-0 tie, what about this scenario?
- Brazil beats both Ivory Coast and Portugal by 2 or more goals each.
- North Korea ties against Ivory Coast and Portugal.

Group of Death? No problem! ...Hmm, am I getting ahead of myself? ...Let's wait and see.

Daniel Cho

As always, please feel free to leave your thoughts below.


Posted by D.H. Chung on 06/15/2010

Thank you for commenting on the North Korean game. I was going to suggest it to you myself. They are our brethren and I am very proud of their performance.

PS Did you ever watch "The Game of Their Lives" about N. Koreans beating the Italians way back when? Very appropriate viewing during the WC. I rarely cry but this movie made it hard to hold back tears.

Go Korea!!!! We are ONE!

Posted by Ahmad on 06/16/2010

It's not only you Daniel. Almost half Asian(half still supporting Brazil..sadly) people were supporting the North Korea when they played against Brazil. They are really brave and so discipline!

p/s: Where can I found The Games of Their Lives?

Posted by James on 06/16/2010

Forget North Korea, they sure aren't MY brother. Get off the "we're all koreans" naivety. They're ruled by a evil dictator and brainwashed and wouldn't hesitate killing you. We're we all korean brothers when that SK tourist got shot by a north korean guard? Or the Cheonan? Or that Korean airliner that got bombed by North Koreans? Or when the former SK president's wife was killed by a North Korean assassins?

Posted by NZ on 06/16/2010

I'm not wanting to cause too much of a stir here, but isn't this the same North Korea that sank the Choenam? Isn't this the same North Korea that repeatedly threatens to turn Seoul in a "Sea of Fire?" I'm frankly disgusted with FIFA that they allowed North Korea to remain a member, and to participate in a competition that supposedly promotes peace. Whatever. From what I've seen from comments and boards and even pundits is racism and hatred over a GAME! Rant over.

On a side note, South Korea should be Argentina 3-0, their defense is much better than Nigeria's. Also, a 2-0 win over Nigeria. Should at the very least make it to the quarters, but probably the semifinals.

Posted by dara on 06/16/2010

m so proud of the north korea. the press said their goal as a consolation one! but i think their goal is a great goal and bring a real strong mentality to the team....down the group of death.!!! go go north korea.

Posted by Rizal on 06/16/2010

I`m supporting Asian. I can see that NK can beat Portugal and Ivory. NK got the strength, we just wait and see :)

Posted by Taikor on 06/16/2010

I was completely surprised to see the North Korean team's performance against Brazil. Awesome! I hope they beat Portugal and at least hold Ivory Coast to a draw. I want to see them again in the next stage of the World Cup finals. Cheers from Malaysia

Posted by mraz on 06/16/2010

we are talking sports NOT bloody be professional bout it.. North Korea did fact i think awesome...unbelievable for an underdog. hands up on Asian.

Posted by Jack on 06/16/2010

One has to applaud North Korea for playing an excellent game against the always strong Brazilian team. I certainly congratulate both teams for making my early waking hours here in Japan to see the game not quite the nightmare I had envisioned. I was riveted to my computer chair throughout the game and this is what sport is all about. The North Korean side may not have their own people in the stands, but with this performance on the pitch, I am sure the unknown North Korean team will have some new supporters all over the world.

Posted by Zidane_4ever on 06/16/2010

Caught the Brazil-NK game, Though 2-1 scoreline, NK's rather stubborn defensive-game might be their own downfall... Most of their NK players comprises on defensive players. Perhaps or maybe they were facing the mighty Brazilian therefore playing on the defensive. Anyway , I do hope NK will bring up their game in their next game and try to be play more attacking football.

With South Korea and Japan already register 1st wins , profile of Asia football would have gain more respect from the rest of the world that the teams from Asia ain't easy push-over anymore compare to the past.

Posted by Izy_on South Africa 2010 on 06/16/2010

So far, South Korea, North Korea and Japan has made Asia proud!

Im sure the lads will continue their hard work and humiliate this so called top rank teams, who arrogantly sees us as minnows!

Remember this, each time we give a good result against them it is a whole world of humiliation to them! and they will never sleep well into the night knowing that these little minnows have beaten and scored against them!

Posted by Lord Jay on 06/16/2010

Asian nations need to consistently perform at above and beyond this level to be considered a force to be reckoned with in world football. How the rest of the world perceive us is the exact way we perceive ourselves to begin with. Success begins by posssessing the mental attitude of a contender rather than a partipating nation. Korea and Japan are playing very good football now but in order for them to move to the next level, they have to change. There is so much potential for Asia (China and India contributes 37% to the human population). Groom 0.04% of these 2.5 billion and there will be 1 million professional footballers in these two countries alone. WC2018?

Posted by Jay on 06/16/2010

As a Chinese National (from Hong Kong), we do not "like" Korea much because you guys always beat us... haha... :)

We are very proud to have the South and the North representing Asia in this world cup.

South --> Remember the year 2002!!!
North --> Remember the year 1966!!!

Go out and shock the world again, our Korean brothers!!

Let's go South Korea! Let's go North Korea! Let's show the world the power and tradition of Korean, and the power and tradition of Asia!!

Don't forget, let's go Japan! Let's go Australia too! :)

Posted by nazu on 06/16/2010

I support Asia Country ...NK did well in the game even they lost . Should give them a lot Credit .

Posted by Dan Raj on 06/16/2010

@ James and @ NZ

... its people like you who strengthen the reason why politics should be bloody well kicked out of football .... were these players the ones who personally torpedoed that SK subs ? .... NO.

.... football (and sports as a whole) is one of the only chances or venues in life where people can actually unite among their differences ... in fact, it was kind of eye-tearing to witness the North Korean fans who were massively outnumbered by the Brazilians in every corner of the stadium to humbly come to support their team. Some people didn't have a choice when they were born into a Communist country. Next time, you guys should think before typing out such uninformed and irrational statement. Football is for peace and unity, and let is fight to keep it that way.

Posted by Jules on 06/16/2010

Phenomenal showing by the N. Koreans in the first half. Some broadcasters were resigned to the notion that it would end as a tie game. Personally, I thought Jong was really impressive. You can tell this guy plays with all his heart, and that's what you need to do in the WC to win.

And please, no politics. Sports are about bringing people together. Let's not forget that.

Posted by Mana on 06/16/2010

I am happy Brazil made it to make a 2-0 win over n Korea. If it was the other country, they wouldn't make it as the Koreans spent money and their time to come all the way to S.A just to to show the world their defensive game.
Actually to me, a defensive gave is the last thing on earth for me to spend my time watching. I watched the whole match jst bcos of the Brazilian shows....
Want to be better!!!
Play the attacking game. N e ways, Cheers Brazil! Cheers South Korea! All the best in all your upcoming matches.

Posted by Wes on 06/16/2010

The victory of any Asian team is a victory for all Asian nations

Posted by Malchick on 06/16/2010

I'm surprised at the pro-North Korea sentiment both on and off the pitch here. Did those posting here actually watch the match? Brazil were frustrated and a bit out of sync, but still had 26 shots and 73% possession. North Korea never looked like winning it, and their goal was clearly against the run of play.

Off the pitch, the 'fans' in the stand were recruited to be there, the coach gave credit for qualifying to the President, so if the team does well, who do you think will benefit? Any success will just turn into PR for a regime that is obviously bad for the entire region.

Supporting them out of some sort of pro-Korea/Asia sentiment seems a bit misguided, at least at this particular moment in history.

Posted by Danny on 06/16/2010

Real that was Nk. to me am happy they worn the game although it was 2- 1

Posted by Tery on 06/16/2010

World cup stands for unity. Put everything aside and enjoy the moment of the Best Players in the world playing the Best game in the World! Go Korea!

Posted by Raj on 06/16/2010

I agree with the sentiment of the article....Sport is the great leveller... I wish politics doesnt interfere with sport...I wish the Nor th Ko rean populace had a chance to see (with swelling pride) their team live in action....
As an Asian, I will always support an Asian team (I dont count Australia in the AFC...they just stole a place!!). I hope Nor th and South Korea and Japan do well.

Posted by john saillo on 06/16/2010

I like the way how N.Korea played against the mighty Brazil.
I am also sure that the people of N.Korea do not want a dictator either. Those players want to have a normal goverment(Democracy) like everyone else and pliz do not judge them because of their politics.

Posted by Matthew Park on 06/16/2010

I love North Korean soccer. They never complain when a foul is called, They always admit that it is their fault when a mistake happens, and They never flop. For some reason, North Korean Soccer can be looked as the purest form of soccer. NO major sponsorship, none of their players have big heads in result of not playing in big clubs. And they know what how the world views them as a country. I was going so crazy when they scored to make it 2-1, and I was hoping for another goal. Also when Jung Dae Sae was crying when their national anthem was played it was a beautiful sight. It just shows how much the world cup means to these players. North Koreans are taught not to show emotions because it is a sign of weakness, but the emotion was so overwhelming he couldn't hold back. It was so beautiful. North Korea, we are brothers and I will be rooting for you guys against Ivory Coast and Portugal.

Posted by Seung on 06/16/2010

My feelings about North Korea is this... I definitely hate the government but I can't resist feeling that at the end of the day we (South Koreans) are same people with North Koreans.

While playing in the WC, those players are representing the people of Korea more than pushing the idiotic North Korean government's agenda.

Go Korea!

Posted by Seung on 06/16/2010

@James and @NZ

if you want to bring history and politics into this.. then direct your hate toward Japan and not NK!

Posted by lion mwasala on 06/16/2010

North Korea really displayed a superb play of football, beyond the world's supporting them against Portugal and Ivory Coast!!! Kudos NK.......

Posted by Simeon Iyoha on 06/16/2010

This World cup is so Maurinhno-Styled and Defensive. Imagine the Brazil Korea DPR ending it 2-1. The KO rounds would probably all end in Shoot outs!

Posted by Steve on 06/16/2010

@ Seung

Eh, your comment about directing hate toward Japan is uncalled for. I apologize to any Japanese counterparts who might be reading this blog...

Anyways, Jung Dae-Sae was fantastic leading the line for North Korea.... Wish he had chosen to represent South Korea instead.

Posted by miyun on 06/16/2010

I saw "Games Of Their Lives" also; basically how the N Korean won the hearts of the village where they were staying, british kids followed them around wearing NK flag T-shirts and stuff. They interviewed the players as well as those fans who are now grown ups. They were so charmed by the NK players, a the interview they say how courteous and well mannered they all were, that a good amount of them followed the NK team to Liverpool to support them at the quarter final! I too cried, one of the best documentaries i have ever seen. ok their leader is a SH (sh#% head) but the people are just people. also it was touching for me when I saw Jong Tae-Se getting emotional at the start of the game - imagine, just being there, at the WC, playing as a representative of your native country.

Posted by sam on 06/16/2010

I am Japanese and just found your Blog on Korea. Amazing work Daniel! Thank you!

As for the Asian results, I think we all agree that it was unlikely to expect anything better than what we felt this week. S. Korea leading our culture towards an amazing victory over Greece, my Samurais with their diciplined swords to shut-off Cameroon and the heroic presentation by N. Korea who showed us that an orderly defence can be followed by constant vertical moves towards the other goal, even having Brazil as an adversary.

We have yet to see the real "magic" that most of the high ranked teams are capable of showing, but this first round was harvested by the squads that did not speculate with the results. Germany seeked to score, even after the 4th goal. Japan finally realized that they couldn't pretend to play like Brazil or Argentina. And S. Korea wisely used their speed and ingenuity to overcome Greece.

The WC is a party for everyone to enjoy! Let's keep it up for the next round!!

Posted by horahng on 06/16/2010

W. Cup is not a political arena, NK players did not commit any of the atrocities, and they are brothers to the ones on the south side. However, I agree with one commentator that FIFA should strip NK of membership. So should the IOC and every other international organization, whether sports or economic or trade or anything. True that many innocent people will suffer as a result, either directly or indirectly. I am a Korean myself and I do not want to see lay people endure additional hardship as a result of actions of other countries. But in order to change the policies of the NK government, it is imperative. Countries are either economically or politically sanctioned routinely for government's bad behavior, although the end result is hardship of its citizens.

Apparently many young people either don't realize or remember it but only a short time ago, the country that is hosting the WC was shunned by the world for practicing apartheid. The world community was united against South Africa even though many innocent people suffered as a consequence, because they believed the apartheid was wrong. Ultimately the whites of SA gave up apartheid and we know the rest of the story. Not only the change of policies of the SA government was embraced by the world, now they are given an opportunity of showcase their country! So why not try against NK? I hope and pray someday NK will be the host country of WC, the Olympics, World Expo, etc, etc, etc.

Posted by Andrew on 06/17/2010

those bigoted cynics thinking north koreans aren't our brothers, go get a new citizenship. you are a deterrent to peace in the peninsula. What we mean when we say that they are our brothers and sisters EXCLUDES his government and his regime. When North Korean army fights us, we are fighting our brothers. Unfortunately we have to fight back, and that's the sad situation.

Posted by Izy_on South Africa 2010 on 06/17/2010

Daniel Cho supports Tottenham Hotspur!

Posted by lee on 06/17/2010

@James - With the tension over the sinking of the Cheonan, SK sanctions are causing a famine along the Southern provinces of NK prompting more people to risk their lives to cross the mine infested border. When they arrive in SK, the SKorean gov't continues to give money and support. Local churches reach out to help and educate refugees. NK's dictator may be crazy, but people are just people. If the SK gov't and the local churches can still see NK's people as brother's why do you feel the need to spout hate at them? It's not that hard to separate the crazy guy from the people the crazy guy is terrorizing.

Let them play at the WC in peace. I'm sure that love their country and their people just as much as you do. I'm sure their proud to play for their nation just as much as you would. I'm sure they pray for a peaceful peninsula and eventual reunification just as much as you should.

Posted by James Moon on 06/19/2010

Good job North Korea!! You fought hard against the mighty Brazilian team. Even South Korea lost terribly against to come away with a 2-1 loss to Brazil is indeed something to be proud about.

Every South Korean needs to realize that historically we are one country, and that the people of the North are our brothers and sisters. It is our destiny to once again be a united Korea.

For any South Korean that does not want a united Korea, you make me sick...for you are forgetting that we are historically one country and one people.

It breaks my heart that many young south koreans would rather north and south korea remain divided, then be one united country again. You make me sick and I hope you move out of South Korea and go and live in America or somewhere else instead. You should not live in South Korea and you do not deserve to either. For you are a selfish bastard who do not want to share the freedoms and luxuries of living in South Korea with the North.

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