World Cup Qualifier: Under dogs vs. Running dogs

Update 2 – 6/9/2008: YouTube video of the game

Both national anthems played

North Korean tem thanks the fans 

Update 1 –  4/3/2008: Interesting coment on DPRK sports social norms below… 

By pure serendipity I happened to be in Shanghai last week when the DPRK and South Korea faced off in their first world cup qualifier.  As readers are aware, this match was supposed to be held in Pyongyang, but after the DPRK refused to raise the South Korean flag (preferring instead a single “unification” flag), FIFA moved the game to Shanghai.

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Both flags were raised and national anthems were played–then the players took to the field.  The game was pretty exciting.  Although the final score was 0-0 both teams played like they wanted to win.  The South Koreans were the clear favorites, so it was a surprise when the game ended in a tie.  Fortunately, I could not contact my bookie from China.

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Above: the North Korean fans sitting directly below me.

Although it was a “home” game for the North Koreans they were drastically out-numbered by Southerners and contained together in their own section.

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Scarves available from Koryo Tours!

The Northerners were quite accessible, however, in the hallways at half-time and after the game. The few I spoke with were language students, business students, engineering students, and businessmen, mostly all from Beijing and Shanghai.  They were organized into groups like Japanese tourists, but it was nice they made the effort bringing out some supporters for the home team. 

Thanks to Simon for the tickets, scarves, and the title.

UPDATE
nkmonitor:
The DPRK fans seem pretty friendly. By the way, where they mostly Chaoxian Zu or actual DPRK citizens? Where they aware of the controversy surrounding the match?

Simon: 
All the ones in white clothes (as seen in the pics taken from above) were full-on DPRK citizens, as mentioned in the piece above they were mostly working in Beijing and Shanghai; there were airline staff, businessmen, students, waitresses, etc all there. The Chinese chaoxian zu seemed to be sitting on the upper stand across the stadium, at least there were a load of people dressed drably, not really making any noise and they had a couple of NK flags out so I assume this was them. The NKs in the lower stand made a bit of noise and had big singalong at the end. When people attend matches in Pyongyang they tend to just sit in silence regardless of how it is going so this did make a refreshing change from that scenario.

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  • Nice title.

  • The DPRK fans seem pretty friendly. By the way, where they mostly Chaoxian Zu or actual DPRK citizens? Where they aware of the controversy surrounding the match?

  • The ones I spoke with were all DPRK citizens. I did not bring up the politics of the game with anyone (I stuck with “getting to know you quesitons”), but I am sure they all knew.

  • Darn. Wish I was in Shanghai!

  • Simon

    All the ones in white clothes (as seen in the pics taken from above) were full-on DPRK citizens, as mentioned in the piece above they were mostly working in Beijing and Shanghai; there were airline staff, businessmen, students, waitresses, etc all there. The Chinese chaoxian zu seemed to be sitting on the upper stand across the stadium, at least there were a load of people dressed drably, not really making any noise and they had a couple of NK flags out so I assume this was them. The NKs in the lower stand made a bit of noise and had big singalong at the end. When people attend matches in Pyongyang they tend to just sit in silence regardless of how it is going so this did make a refreshing change from that scenario

  • Werner Koidl

    According to a Chinadaily report the North Korean soccer fans showed in 2005 a quite different behaviour:

    “World soccer governing body FIFA has ordered North Korea to play a politically sensitive home World Cup qualifier against Japan behind closed doors in Bangkok.

    FIFA said North Korea’s soccer association had not appealed in time against a decision to punish the country for crowd trouble during March qualifiers against Bahrain and Iran in Pyongyang.”

  • Simon

    That’s correct, there is an exception to the ‘tendency’ I described i my earlier post, however a handful of people chucking things is not a riot – any European football fan can tell the difference surely 🙂 and nobody is suggesting that it was state-orchestrated trouble anyway, should perhaps be viewed as a case of angry fans actually caring enough to make a bit of trouble under their own steam; AKA action they independently and with free will took into their own hands. I’m not suggesting violence at sporting events should be supported but as I recall from other forums at the time the concept of NK Nationals acting and thinking independently is generally considered a positive thing. Nevertheless I’ve been to several international matches in Pyongyang and never seen anything other than what I described above with the exception of Women’s internationals where the crowd is a bit more enthusiastic and does tend to shout encouragement (no chanting though) perhaps because the women’s team is an actual force in world football unlike the national men’s team.

  • Werner Koidl

    It were not just a handful of people. According to the Independent thousands of angry Korean supporters caused troubles during and after the match:

    “Fifa is today awaiting referee Mohammed Kousa’s report before launching an investigation after he and two assistants were forced to seek refuge from angry North Korea fans following the World Cup qualifier against Iran.

    Iran beat North Korea 2-0 in Pyongyang yesterday in a match that ended in violent scenes to take the outright lead in their World Cup qualifying group. The match officials were unable to leave the pitch for 20 minutes after the game as furious North Korea fans hurled bottles, rocks and chairs in frustration.

    North Korean soldiers and police were forced to step in to restore order at Kim Il-Sung Stadium after the defender Nam Song-Chol was sent off for shoving the Syrian referee Kousa. The violence spilled over outside the stadium where thousands of angry North Korea supporters prevented Iran’s players from boarding the team bus. Riot police finally pushed back the crowd far enough for Iran’s squad to depart two hours after the end of the game.

    Tempers flared towards the end of the Group B match as Nam was dismissed for pushing Kousa after he had denied the defender a penalty. The game was held up for five minutes following Nam’s dismissal as bottles rained down on to the stadium’s running track.”

    First I also thought that the North Koreans still can show expressions of spontaneity (similar to their southern countrymen), but after reading a report of a 2003 Iran – North Korean qualifier match in Teheran where the Iranians came not only with scarves and flags but also with grenades and rockets to support their team, I suspected the NK-rulers wanted the NK audience to support its team with at least the same same Songun spirit that the Iranians demonstrated in the Teheran match.
    (see http://payvand.com/news/03/nov/1085.html )

  • Simon

    Honestly, you think that was orchestrated? really? I’ve seen them play Iran before in Pyongyang in the usual half-full stadium of silence (Asian cup qualifier, Oct 2003 as I recall) and the state didn’t arm the crowd that time, a quick swipe with Occam’s razor would surely suggest that trouble kicked off as the crowd got angry, not that a puppet-master wanted to make a point

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