South Korea: Tensions Went Under World Cup Anesthestia

The sharp tension between two Koreas which had been escalating ever since the sinking of a South Korean warship by a supposed North Korean torpedo attack have momentarily numbed by high emotion that only World Cup can bring. South Korean blogs are now inundating with heartful comments on North Korea's soccer match against Brazil and lauds to a North Korean star player, Jong Tae Se, shoving politics aside for a moment.

Yesterday's match between North Korea and Brazil was an unpredictable twist, where North Korean soccer team, who numbered as 105 in FIFA rank scored a goal against the World's number one Brazil team, losing the match only by 2-1.

South Korean blog space were filled with lavish praises on North Korean team whom fought unexpectedly well against any one's odd. Koreans, who fully understands how overwhelming for Asian players to compete against relatively taller and experienced European or African players who came from traditionally soccer-strong countries, have expressed their sympathy and support toward North Korean team. According to the Asiatoday newspaper, even South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reportedly said that he wished North Korean team to win.

A bloger named Duizilland commented on his blog that he was moved by North Korean players, whom despite their unfavorable physical structure and lack of World cup experience, summoned every strength they have to fight against a truly formidable opponent. 

 북한은 전 세계의 축구팬들에게 약팀이 보여줄 수 있는 모든 것을 보여주었다…소위 축구 강대국들 입장에서야 따분하기 짝이 없는 결과이겠지만 우리 입장에선 아무리 축구 외적인 문제에서 정치, 역사적 불협화음을 빚어도 결국 같은 Korea 라는 대승적 차원에서 상당히 고무적인 현실이다…난 오늘 남북간 정치적 관계를 떠나 축구팬으로서 피파랭킹 105위의 북한 선수들이 피파랭킹 1위의 브라질을 상대로 펼치는 투혼에 너무나도 감명받았기 때문에.

North Korea exhibited all the characteristics a weak soccer team has in front of all the World soccer fans…This (match) would be an extremely boring/insignificant result for countries with strong soccer teams, but this shed lights on the fact that we indeed belong to same Korea, although there is ongoing cacophony in politics and histories and other non-soccer issues…I, today, as a pure soccer fan with no political interests, was reallly moved by the spirit the North Korean players whom ranked as No. 105 in FIFA has shown against the FIFA rank No.1 Brazil team. 

A photo of Jong Tae-Se, North Korean team's ace uncontrolably sobbing just before the start of the match had been breifly posted on a front page of the FIFA official homepage and is now circulating over numerous South Korean blogs.  Jong told later local media that he was so overwhelemed by the fact he is finally standing at the World Cup stadium with World's best soccer team.
Jong Tae-se, spelled as Jeong Dae-se in South Korea and Chong Tese in Japan, is an outstanding football player from North Korean national soccer team. Jong is often called as ‘People's Rooney’, his nickname made from the combination of Rooney as in the famous English football player Wayne Rooney and ‘People’ from North Korea's official name, the Democratic ‘People’ Republic of Korea.

A Naver blogger Zzub 33 commented on his blog that he was deeply moved by Jong's tears.

궁극적으로 한민족이라는 까닭에 북한의 선전을 기원했지만, 객관적인 실력과 주변의 평가에 너무 긴장되기도 했습니다.그러다가 브라질과 북한의 국가가 흘러나오고 양국 선수들이 경기를 시작하려고 할 쯔음에 뭔가 찡-해지는 느낌을 어떻게 할 수가 없더군요. 보는 이마저 찡하게 만든 정대세 선수의 눈물은…인상이 깊더군요.

I prayed North Korea to fight well, as we(South and North Korea) are one nation eventually, but at the same time I got extremely nervous because I know the North Korean team's actual ability and people's (professional) evaluation on it…As national anthems of Brazil and North Korea were heard and two teams are getting ready for the match, I felt something, a strong emotion which I cant just get rid off. Jong Tae Se's tears have touched the audience… that was really impressive. 

Even though, Jong Tae-se was born in Japan and played in Japanese soccer league, he had the South Korean citizenship which he inherited from his parents. Jong later discarded his South Korean citizenship to join North Korean soccer team.

A blogger ‘Tweewg’ wrote on his blog that soccer transcends the nationality.

이 경기의 포인트는 여러가지가 있다.그중에서도 단연 한 가지만 꼽으라면 인민 루니, 정대세 선수이다…외국인이 아닌 우리의 눈에는 그가 광장히 독특한 이력을 가진 선수다. 간단히 말해 정대세는 한국 국적이다. 그러나 일본에 살고 있으며, 북한 국가대표로 월드컵에 나서고 있다. 전세계에 전무후무한 국적을 떠나 사는 곳을 떠나 그는 소속팀을 정한 것이다. 그의 정치적 입장도 사상도 나는 잘 알지 못한다…축구는 스포츠다.

There are highlights from this match…To name one, it is the People's Rooney, Jong Tae-se…To us Koreans, his resume is quite perculiar. His nationality is South Korea, but he lives in Japan and playing as a North Korean national soccer player. This is unprecedent case on global level for a guy to choose his team regardless of his nationality and residency. I dont know well on his political stance or ideology…The soccer is just sports.

There are extreme hardliners from the other side expressing their repulsions on people's friendly attitude toward North Korea, South Korea's official state enemy. But as the World Cup came to momentarily embraces the politics, purely soccer-wise encouraging comments on North Korean players will likely to continue throughout June.

1 comment

  • […] The FIFA World Cup fever briefly thawed the inter-Korean tension among the public. Under the World Cup anesthesia, people focused on the North Korean people and players, rather than its regime. Jung Tae-se, a North Korean football player whose origin is in the South, gained a huge popularity in South Korea. However, after the game ended, a tragic story which many wished to be a rumor spread around local media that the North Korean national football team was reprimanded by its regime over their poor game results. (Read More)    […]

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