News / Asia

N. Korean Footballers Make Rare Seoul Visit

North Korean women's national soccer team players listen to head coach Kim Kwang Min after training session, Seoul World Cup stadium, South Korea, July 19, 2013.
North Korean women's national soccer team players listen to head coach Kim Kwang Min after training session, Seoul World Cup stadium, South Korea, July 19, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
North Korea's women's football (soccer) team is on a rare visit to Seoul to play in the East Asia Cup and on July 21 will take on rival South Korea. While relations between the teams remain tense, analysts say the friendly sports exchange could help improve relations on the peninsula.
 
This is only the second time the North's women's team has competed in South Korea in the East Asia Cup tournament. The last time was in 2005 when Seoul hosted, and won, the first women's games organized by the East Asian Football Federation.
 
Technical coach of the North Korean team, Kim Kwang Woong, declined to comment on whether its participation would help inter-Korean relations, telling journalists in Seoul Friday they were just there to play football, but pleased to take part in the tournament.
 
"[We] will participate in the matches with techniques, tactics and spirit that [we] have built," he said, adding that he has strong trust in the team's prospects for victory.
 
The competition follows months of military tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul. The two countries also remain deadlocked in negotiations over reopening their joint industrial complex, which has been closed since April.
 
Professor Chung Young-chul, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Seogang University, says capital's welcoming of the North Korean football team promotes friendlier inter-Korean relations.
 
"In the past, sports and cultural exchanges have contributed to easing political tensions between the two Koreas and create an atmosphere to hold political talks," he said.
 
Negotiators from North and South Korea on Monday will enter the Kaesong factory park for a fifth round of marathon negotiations. Pyongyang wants operations to resume immediately but Seoul demands guarantees the North will never again unilaterally shut it down.
 
While the football match between the two Koreas will be heated, analyst Chung Young-chul says that based on past tournaments, South Koreans are likely to cheer for the North when they play other teams.
 
"So, if North Korea competes with Japan or China at these games, there will be many South Koreans who will cheer for North Korea," he said, adding that this cheering will strengthen compatriotism between the two Koreas.
 
"But it does not mean that South Koreans politically support North Korea," he said.
 
A mutual nationalism against tournament leader Japan, in particular, is expected to unify Korean fans, as historic grievances against Japan's 35-year colonization of Korea are felt on both sides of the divided peninsula.
 
The North Korean team plays Japan on July 25 and China on July 27.
 
International sports have in the past helped bring the two Koreas together in a show of friendly unity. They have participated together in the opening ceremonies of some past Olympics, including under a special flag at the 2000 Sydney games.
 
More recently, the North and South Korean teams remained separated at the Olympics as political tensions between the countries increased.
 
At last year's London Olympics the North Korean women's soccer team walked away in protest after the South Korea flag was mistakenly displayed next to their photos.
 
Pyongyang and Seoul have held off-and-on discussions about one day fielding a joint team, but have so far failed to agree on a way to make it happen.

VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid