North Korea Disciplines Losing World Cup Team

I suppose it could have been much worse for them:

North Korea’s football team has been shamed in a six-hour public inquisition and the team’s coach has been accused of “betraying” the reclusive leader’s heir apparent following their failure at the World Cup, according to reports.

The entire squad was forced onto a stage at the People’s Palace of Culture and subjected to criticism from Pak Myong-chol, the sports minister, as 400 government officials, students and journalists watched.

The players were subjected to a “grand debate” on July 2 because they failed in their “ideological struggle” to succeed in South Africa, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported.

The team’s coach, Kim Jong-hun, was reportedly forced to become a builder and has been expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The coach was punished for “betraying” Kim Jong-un – one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il’s sons and heir apparent.

The country, in its first World Cup since 1966, lost all three group games – including a 7-0 defeat to Portugal.

The broadcast of live games had been banned to avoid national embarrassment, but after the spirited 2-1 defeat to Brazil, state television made the Portugal game its first live sports broadcast ever.

Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats.

Only two players avoided the inquisition – Japanese-born Jong Tae-se and An Yong-hak, who flew straight to Japan after the tournament.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. jay the furmanator says:

    Too bad for the Athletes of  NK , It goes beyond words to describe a country ruled by a despotic imbecile. Starve your people, ban everything but stone soup and on and on…
    Soccer will live on….so……we have N.K, Iran, Venezuela to deal with…..where is Karma, forget superman.
    To clear the air, may I suggest to everyone, shoot baskets in your driveway….once you hit a thirty footer life is good. IMO. Peace Out Infidels    ajf :0 )

  2. Richard Gardner says:

    The discussion on 2 players flying elsewhere made me look up how busy Pyongyang airport is with international flights. Best I can determine:
    Beijing- 6 flights/week (not on Sunday)
    Shenyang (Mukden in Manchuria, closest large Chinese city) – 2 flights/week (Wed/Sat)
    Vladistock (Russia) – “There is a (supposedly) weekly flight to Vladivostok, but in fact it’s hardly more than a glorified charter, as it goes only if there’s enough passengers to fill the elderly Tu-134.” Wikipedia
    Hermit Kingdom indeed. Even tiny Bhutan has ~4 international flights/day on Drukair.

  3. Robert the Red says:

    “Despotic imbecile”.  I think not — a God King, to whom obeisance must be made and who in his person owns the entire society (including the people).  It’s nice to be the King — not so nice for everyone else, of course.