Once again, North Korea makes soccer entertaining.

And to think people wonder why I blog about North Korea.

North Korea’s coach blamed his side’s 2-0 loss to the United States on his players getting struck by lightning in the build up to the Women’s World Cup. Kwang Min Kim claimed that some of them were hospitalised with electrocution after a training match on 8 June.

Maybe their treating physician had one of those special transmitters, too. This probably calls for some kind of criticism session, though if Lloyd’s were still issuing insurance policies in North Korea, I’m sure they’d charge a higher premium against criticism sessions than lightning strikes.

By the way, wasn’t their 2008 World Cup coach named Kim Jong Hun, or has he been airbrushed out of the team yearbooks?

“When we stayed in Pyongyang during training our players were hit by lightning, and more than five of them were hospitalised,” said coach Kim, without naming the affected players specifically.

“Some stayed in hospital and then came to Germany later than the rest of us. The goalkeeper and the four defenders were most affected, and some midfielders as well. The physicians said the players were not capable of participating in the tournament.

“But World Cup football is the most important and significant event for a footballer, so they don’t want to think about anything but football.

“The fact that they played could be called abnormal, the result of very strong will.”

Yes, something certainly is abnormal here — starting with the patent hypocrisy of welcoming North Korean teams to international sporting events, yet ostracizing South African teams from them for the expressly political purpose of pressuring the South African government to change its repellent and racist political system. Excluding racism from polite society is perfectly fine with me, but let’s be morally consistent about it. As offensive and oppressive as apartheid was, was it really more oppressive, offensive, and racist than this?

Update: The discrepancy in the coaches’ names might be explained by the fact that this is the women’s team we’re talking about today.


  1. Interesting point about the S. Africa analogy. I think the key difference here is that the South African government actually sort of cared about being included in international sporting events, so excluding them had a real potential to impact their thinking. The North Korean government enjoys having the chance to compete, but they wouldn’t seriously be bothered if they were barred from events – to them, it would just be more evidence of a hostile world determined to tear them down at every opportunity.

    On the other hand, denying the North Korean people the fleeting pleasure they may get from watching these matches and possible catching vague hints about the “outside world” would, in my view, be a callous mistake.

  2. Don’t think it’s callous at all. I’m pretty sure, the North Korean people would not see these matches unless the regime could somehow spin it to their advantage. The South Africa analogy goes right to the heart of the global hypocrisy. Apparantly, South Africa is barred from competition due to the policies of the previous government and yet North Korea is allowed in spite of the policies of it’s current government. I’m not sure I follow the logic.

  3. Nice excuse coach. So when we all here of the team mysteriously dissappearing upon return to the DPRK we will know that they all died of heart failure due to being struck by lightning a month ago.

  4. Would it not be great if foreigners could participate in the Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang games?

    No wait…

  5. As much as I agree with those who say North Korea should be banned from international sports competitions (if for no other reason than their unsportsmanlike conduct), there is something really satisfying about seeing the Yankee imperialist bastards thrash the “pure and virtuous” Daughters of Tangun. Apparently, “racial virtue,” “clean bloodlines,” and the “Brilliant Coaching of the Great General Himself” (via an invisible earpiece) aren’t very good substitutes for things like skill and training.

  6. Undoubtedly the lighning that struck the players contained a healthy amount of testosterone.

  7. Folly all we will. Joshua is right, well, in regards to why we Americans are fascinated by the Norks and refuse to bar them from the games. The North Koreans are the only nation on Earth whom has gained status as being absolutely bat sh#t crazy yet Industialized from 1960 on taking our assistance and shitting on us. Yes I said “shitting on us”. The fact that the Kim Family is now being sworn outload in the streets of Pyongyang is cause enough for the ROK to finally realize that China is now it’s pawn. China would never dare go against a ROK Korean-United States-Japanese- Russian Cue de Gras. China would be stupid to oppose a Japanese-ROK one.


  8. Also, the international sports committees awarded Olympics to Russia, despite massacring Chechnyans, and to China, despite massacring Tibetans. I doubt they care about North Korea.

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