Friday, 30 July 2010

All a matter of degree

It must be good to live in a place where you always know whose fault it is and why. So it is with the North Korean football team who did rather worse than England in the World Cup. The full report is in The Toronto Star.

First, they were made to listen to a public airing of their faults. Then they had to turn around en masse and do the same thing to their disgraced coach, who may not be long for this world.

We have the press do the first part for us, of course. The second we don't talk about. The third is not in our hands.

Embarrassment was compounded when, after a competitive 2-1 opening loss to five-time champions Brazil, the country’s despotic leadership took the unprecedented step of broadcasting the team’s second game on live television. North Korea’s 7-0 loss to Portugal was one of the most lopsided in tournament history.

According to early reports, the North Korean play-by-play team stopped speaking during the second half of the broadcast. The match went unreported in the next day’s newspapers.

Showing the match in silence is not altogether a bad idea. Why not just vuvuzelas and a roving mic? 'After the competitive 0-0 with Algeria...'

The 23-man roster – minus its two Japanese-based ringers, Jong “Weepy” Tae-se and An Yong-hak – was hauled up on stage in front of 400 attendees at the inaptly named People’s Palace of Culture.

The audience included a large number of university students and athletes, as well as high party officials.

For the next six hours, players were reprimanded for failures in their play, according to a jarring report from Radio Free Asia.

This included a damning player-by-player appraisal of individual mistakes in play, provided by the country’s leading sports broadcaster.

More alarmingly, they were accused of “betraying” the country in the “great ideological struggle.”

After the players received their collective rollicking, the team was then forced to round on its coach, Kim Jong-hun.

Fabio got the the great psychological battle wrong. The players were found guilty of betraying the country. Hauled up on stage in front of a readership of some millions, John 'Weepy' Terry not excepted.

Things were far worse for Kim.

He was accused of “betraying the young General Kim Jong-un,” the shadowy son of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il.

Though no adult photos exist of Kim Jong-un, he is thought to be his seriously ill father’s heir apparent. A nascent personality cult is quickly building up around him in North Korea.

When the team first qualified for the World Cup several months ago, the success was chalked up nationwide as “young General Kim Jong-un’s accomplishment.”

The ominous linking of coach Kim with future leader Kim means the soccer manager’s “safety is in jeopardy,” according to RFA.

Fabio's job in jeopardy. Accused of 'betraying the shadowy young Richard the Lionheart...'

In recent months, North Korea has executed two top officials – one who oversaw a recent disastrous currency revaluation and another in charge of diplomatic talks with South Korea. Both were subjected to the same sort of accusations of treachery before they faced the firing squad.

Rumours abound that coach Kim has been expelled from the Worker’s Party and forced into the construction industry as a labourer.

Now surely that is going a little too far. I suppose Fabio could be lent a boiler suit...

1 comment:

James said...

There was a brief moment there, early in the World Cup, when North Korea was about things that weren't appalling, inhumane, tragic and so forth.

Over now, clearly. I hope "not long for this world" turns out to be dramatizing things, but, well..