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Discussion Starter #1
You all know I have a soft spot for obscure teams and an interest in politics, so for me it was a true delight when North Korea finally managed to qualify for the WC. With my own favourite national teams almost 90% certain out of the race, the Korea DPR games are the ones I look forward to most.

But I would like to not watch them totally uninformed and know a bit about North Korean football in advance. A bit of searching gave me little info since this country isolates itself to such extent that even regular internet is inexisting, only a big intranet with government sponsored sites. So hardly impossible to find info on their players, their clubs etc since none of them are on the web. There is wikipedia but we all know info there is not always as reliable.

Does anyone who follows Asian football in depth (or maybe someone of neighbouring nations who catch a bit of news from Pyongyang now and then) know more about their players? Do they have a professional league in North Korea? Is there a large football fan culture with travelling fans in their league (not to games abroad obviously since people are forbidden to leave the country)?



From wikipedia I found out this:
- there are two leagues , one in spring and one in autumn, both are considered more or less official. Both last 3 to 4 months.
- there are no professional players in the same way as in other countries, due to the communist laws.
- transfers are, due to the same laws, regularised by the FA rather than the existance of a free transfer market. Clubs receive state donations to get themselves going. Transfers abroad strictly forbidden.
- most clubs are connected to the army or local governments in some way, at least so their names indicate and in some ways it´s pretty obvious
- not sure if there is any such thing as fanclubs for specific teams and to what extent people can visit games and visit away games freely, the articles give no info on that
- their youth teams and women´s teams are amongst the best in Asia
- all players are amateur according to a BBC.co.uk article, though article is 7 years old and may be outdated



And this is all wikipedia, so we have to take this with a grain of salt. Does anyone know something more, have accurate info?

Regarding the fan culture: they do have several huge stadiums, amongst the biggest in Asia, so you´d at least think that a lot of people attend games.



PS this is a serious topic as I´m genuinely interested to find out more about this team prior to seeing them at the World Cup. Please post serious replies only and no political stuff (unless it directly influences the football in the country)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You probably mean South Korea then?

Their only players abroad are those who were born in Japan from North Korean ancestry, they are free to go wherever they want. They even have 1 playing in the Swiss league. This is a group of Koreans in Japan who refuse to recognise the South and/or the devide of Korea and hold on to their North Korean citizenship despite being raised in Japan. These few players are the ones being free to sign for any club. The ones born in North Korea seem to be restricted to the North Korean league which is a big mystery to me: do they have any professionals or does the local system indeed only allow amateur sports? How good is the level of this North Korean league? Is there huge crowds and a fan culture or are access to games restricted to the lucky few? The league seems to be a mystery much like the country itself: very few info (in a way logically when the clubs cannot have a webpage and when journalism is virtually unexisting in the country) and the sources that exist are not the most reliable ones (but then those who created those Wikipedia pages ; how did they get access to that info from such an isolated and little documented league ?)

So many question marks and mysteries... But exactly for that reason I really look forward to see North Korea at the mundiale next year.
 

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In Australia we were given good access to the Asian World Cup Qualifiers, well, as long as you subscribed to the pay service Foxtel.

I seen their match against KSA in Pyongyang which they won deservedly - seemed to me that the Saudis never adapted to the conditions, judging from the pitch it was very cold. DPR played well here, really controlled possession absolutely, their opponent barely got moving.

Also in their capital vs. UAE, not a spectacular match but they scored some nice goals, especially the first - one-touch passing around the box, then a slick, swerving shot which goes in. Classy stuff and their best goal of the qualifiers.

It happens at 1:43. My description was off, but still a fine goal.

[tub]o03m_UI4Bls[/tub]

Moving on, unfortunately I never seen any of their meetings with South Korea, don't know why.

Again another match to speak of took place in Pyongyang, against Iran. This wasn't deliberate, by the way. Anyway, I think Iran claimed the more dangerous opportunities if memory serves.

Finally the crunch match in Riyadh. They set out to defend and they got what they wanted.

Watching matches in the Kim Il-Sung Stadium is interesting. When the opposition is in possession, the fans whistle incessantly. Also the commentator never, ever referred to them as "North Korea," instead elaborating, "oh and the shot flies wide from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea!!" over and over. lol

They do have some players better than others, but far above all they're a team who work hard for each other.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The latter is because North Korea does not diplomatically recognise South Korea (remember they moved an encounter between the two due to refusing to play the South Korea anthem) and thus claims they should be the only Korean state. Hence why they use the term Democratic People´s Republic (by the way, FIFA also uses the term Korea DPR rather than North Korea)

As for Hong Yong-Jo, how did he manage to sneak out of the country? Very few people are even allowed to travel abroad, let alone to relocate abroad, the borders of North Korea are strictly closed. So it surprises me that he managed to get a transfer to Russia. Sure that wikipedia isn´t wrong here and that he´s not one of the Japanese-born players with North Korean heritage who therefor qualify to represent North Korea in football?

I am curious if anyone knows anything about the league. I know the army-controlled team is the most succesful (somehow I´m not surprised) but is there anything like a fan culture and travelling support? Is there any professional player or is it really strictly amateur? If the latter is true, it´s amazing achievement to qualify for the world cup while in a group with countries that field 11 professionals. I guess the North Korean league is a mystery as much as the country is.

In South Africa they will not have any vocal support due to travel restrictions, the only North Korean fans will be (like the few foreign-based players) Japanese-born ethnic Koreans who refuse Japanese citizenship and instead stick to their North Korean ID. They actually form the largest minority group within Japan, so I read. Based in Japan, they don´t face travel restrictions like the ones based in the DPR Korea itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Nice video ILA :thumbsup: Their fans didn´t have a dresscode that day, I notice some variation on the stands there :) They do seem to have a few skillful players and a very good physique, the reclusiveness of their league makes the players unknown to foreign coaches and thus I guess preparing a game against North Korea is very difficult. You don´t know what to expect, it´s not like you can send a scout to a game ...
 
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