Commenter Hamel wrote:

Prediction: international media stories will focus on the national disgrace caused to North Korea by the 7 nil result, and then lead on (quite naturally) to discussions of the players’ fate when they return to Pyongyang – and perhaps IF they will return

Well, Hamel, from the Guardian:

The collapse in North Korea’s fortunes was all the more surprising after their ultra-defensive strategy had frustrated Brazil for so long in the opening fixture. After today’s match the players trooped silently back to the dressing room, heads down, and did not speak to reporters.

Perhaps fearful of the repercussions back home for his squad, North Korea’s manager, Kim Jong-hun, attempted to deflect blame on to himself. “As the coach, it was my fault for not playing the right strategy,” he said. “That is why we conceded so many goals.”

The Guardian story is actually slightly interesting, dealing as it does with the decision by North Korea to broadcast the game live:

Foreign residents in North Korea said the news of the live broadcast spread like wildfire. “This is significant,” said Simon Cockerell of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, which has organised several trips to the isolated nation.

“I have seen a lot of games in North Korea and they never show them live. I doubt there has been a letter-writing campaign, but they do seem receptive to the public desire to see live football.”

For what it’s worth, North Korea reportedly broadcast the entire slaughter, although the broadcast ended almost as soon as the game did, with no post-game commentary. Probably for the best really — don’t think the masses are ready to watch Jong “Hummer” Tae-se (see also here) do a post-game interview in stammering, highly accented Korean.

Anyway, a comment by Milton drew my attention to an irony I hadn’t really noticed till now, namely, we have North Korea playing in an international competition in South Africa, a nation that spent much of the apartheid era barred from international sporting competitions. Even hosting a South African team — for instance, the Springboks — for a tour was sure to spark massive protests or, as was the case in New Zealand in 1981, a virtual national uprising. Now, you have South Africa playing host to a team from a nation led by one of the worst — if not the worst — regimes of the post-war era, right after it just murdered 46 South Korean sailors, and nary a word is said (unless, of course, you’re a South Korean “progressive,” in which case you’re organizing cheering sessions).


UPDATE: More on the live broadcast of the North Korea game, Kim Jong-il and what happens when you lose:

North Korea’s players were feted as heroes when they returned home last year after qualifying for the World Cup. The sport is North Korea’s most popular and has one exceptionally important fan: leader Kim Jong Il.

Kim, 68, used North Korea’s 1966 World Cup success as political capital in his campaign to take over leadership from his father, Kim Il Sung, according to Moon Ki-nam, a former national coach for North Korea who defected to South Korea in 2004.
[D]efectors, including the ex-North Korea coach, said poor play overseas has meant punishment at home, including being “purged” and sent to coal mines.

The North Korea coach insisted Sunday that no punishment would await the team if it failed to advance.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; it doesn’t always turn out the way you want. But there are going to be no further consequences,” he said.