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A tyrant’s tantrum

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.

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16 comments to A tyrant’s tantrum

  • Eric

    Strategypage notes this is progress, as in the past entire losing teams were sent to the labor camps.

  • RAB

    Ying Tong Hiddle, and I Po, the two reserves who were on the bench for the three games, presumably escaped criticism then?

    Personally, I’d love to see a special edition of Question Time with the England team and manager facing a hostile prime time audience hurling questions at them, wouldn’t you?

    North Korea is definately getting decadent. They’d have all been shot in the old days! And what is the story with the the two who were born in Japan???

  • Mike Lorrey

    So North Korea has their own form of Survivor TV show eh? The players got to vote the coach off the island?

    The Dear Leader’s son has a real gangsta name, Kim Il-un. He’s illin’ for a killin’…

    The two born in Japan are evidently the children of Koreans. Thats allowed, there are tons of American athletes who are children or grandchildren of immigrants who wind up competing for the Old Country’s team when they can’t make it into the US Olympic Team. Nice way to get some other country to pay for your vacation if you can manage it.

  • Alsadius

    Well, that makes me happy. I was actually kind of worried about the morality of cheering against North Korea, given that if they lost, I figured they’d get shot. Good to see that all they got was a dressing-down.

    And it’s unsurprising that commies care about sports so much. Every regime wants to look successful, and it’s not like communist regimes have successful countries to point at. So they use sports instead, because that’s one of the few areas where they can compete with well-governed countries.

  • Brian, follower of Deornoth

    They’ve run out of concrete footballs in North Korea, then?

  • This always seems to happen through the dictators’ sons, rather than the dictators themselves. It was not Saddam Hussein but his son Uday who had the Iraqi soccer team tortured, and this story is full of Kim Jung-hun.

    Perhaps the sons of dictators get to live rather self-indulgent lifestyles, and self indulgent lifestyles of the powerful often seem to involve sporting teams these days. Plus their father’s let them run national football because it isn’t actually all that important. Except that it becomes mixed up with depraved absolute power, and the population follow it to such an extent that it becomes absurdly important in national pride and you end up with situations like this.

    I’m just speculating though.

  • Thomas

    Can the kid do show tunes?

  • Paul Marks

    “Team America: World Police” understood Comrade Kim.

    His first reaction would have been to release the trapdoor and feed the “failures” to his pet sharks.

    Unfortunatly the trap door would not work (bad craftsmanship – and using the wrong materials) and the sharks would have been killed and eaten by starving people.

    Socialist regimes always go bankrupt and fall apart in the end – Comrade Barack please note.

  • Kristopher

    The pro-NORK comments after the article are hilarious … A bunch of Stalinists plugging their ears with their fingers and chanting “lA la la la la la la it didn’t happen imperialist propaganda!”

    What’s sad is that the team members were conditioned thoroughly enough to not defect while outside North Korea. The Japan-born members had sense enough to bug out.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Hmm… on the other hand, when I reflect that the most sacred principle in American government is that no one in it can be held responsible for anything….

  • Alsadius

    Kristopher – Either that, or they only let you leave the country if you have a family staying at home.

  • That’s exactly what they do, Alsadius – at least that’s what they used to do in the SU.

  • n005

    And it’s unsurprising that commies care about sports so much. Every regime wants to look successful, and it’s not like communist regimes have successful countries to point at. So they use sports instead, because that’s one of the few areas where they can compete with well-governed countries.

    Oh, woe is North Korea indeed! Why, society as they know it has lost a game of footy! Oh! What a wonderful life would be for them, if only they needed suffer no more pain than to live in a soul-smashing communist pit of despair!

  • tranio

    Plenty of people play for countries other than their country of birth. My son, Canadian born, is returning today to Canada after playing for the fastpitch softball team of Great Britain at the European championship in the Czech republic. The GB team was third after Denmark and the Czech republic. Mind you, in true amateur style he had to pay his own way there from Vancouver

  • R7

    His first reaction would have been to release the trapdoor and feed the “failures” to his pet sharks.

    No, for Dictator Kim’s son, the sharks must have laser beams on their heads!

  • Paul Marks

    I know it is not a funny situation (after all Kim may be about to fire of atomic weapons and murder millions of people) but I can not help thinking we need “Rogue Trooper” to help defeat the tyranical Norts.

    Seriously – those atomic weapons should be destroyed (by whatever means) before Kim uses them.