The North Korean football team has aroused the ire of the Dear Leader.
Early this month the players were summoned to an auditorium at the working people’s culture palace in Pyongyang, forced onstage and subjected to a six-hour barrage of criticism for their poor performances in South Africa, according to the US-based Radio Free Asia.
Only Jung Tae-se and An Yong-hak were spared a dressing down as they flew directly to Japan, their country of birth and where they play club football, according to an unnamed Chinese businessman the station cites as its source.
The “grand debate” was reportedly witnessed by 400 athletes and sports students, and the country’s sports minister. Ri Dong-kyu, a sports commentator for the North’s state-run Korean Central TV, led the reprimands, pointing out the shortcomings of each player, South Korean media said.
In true Stalinist style, the players were then “invited” to mount verbal attacks on their coach, Jung-hun.
The coach was reportedly accused of betraying the leader’s son, Kim Jong-un, who is expected to take over from his ailing father as leader of the world’s only communist dynasty.
Radio Free Asia quoted the source as saying he had heard that Kim Jung-hun had been sent to work on a building site and there were fears for his safety.
North Korea watchers said the regime had been hoping to attribute the team’s success to Kim Jong-un as it attempts to build support among military and workers’ party elites for a transfer of power.
It’s weird, this thing dictators have for sport. You spend decades building up your own and your dynasty’s power, and where do you end up? Wiith its continuation being significantly dependant on the outcome of some football matches, apparently. One almost feels sorry for Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un, prisoners of their own despotism. Of course the list of people to be sorry for in North Korea as a result of that despotism is long, and their names come last upon it.