World Cup: North Korea coach bristles at reporters’ questions
JOHANNESBURG – North Korea’s coach bristled at reporters’ questions Monday on the eve of the team’s opening World Cup match against Brazil.
Coach Kim Jong Hun, appearing at an official news conference at Ellis Park Stadium, was fine answering the first question about injuries.
“Nobody is injured,” he said. “They’re all in top shape.”
But the second question, from a South Korean journalist asking about his team’s tactics, raised his ire when the reporter, speaking in Korean, referred to his country as “North Korea” – rather than the nation’s official name: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“There’s such no country called ‘North Korea,'” he said testily. “Next question.”
Though commonly called “North Korea” abroad, the nation refers to itself as the “DPRK” in English or “Chosun” in Korean, the pre-colonial name of the Korean peninsula.
FIFA refers to North Korea as DPR Korea, while South Korea is listed as Korea Republic.
The exchange brought to light the political and linguistic differences between the two Koreas, which have been divided into north and south since 1945 and separated by a heavily fortified border since the Korean War of the early 1950s.
South Koreans call their country “Hanguk,” and refer to North Korea as “Bukhan” – North Korea.
North Koreans call the entire peninsula “Chosun,” and refer to South Korea as “Nam Chosun” – South Korea.
Kim also was asked whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had a say in the selection of players. The FIFA media official cut the reporter off, reminding journalists not to ask political questions.
The official also diverted a question about whether North Korea’s games would be aired live in the North. The South Korean broadcaster bearing the broadcast rights for the entire Korean peninsula has said it would not feed the coverage live to the North, as in the past, due to political tensions.
Kim said briefly that he was “not involved” in the matter.
Both Koreas are at the World Cup for the first time, with North Korea making an appearance after a 44-year absence and South Korea qualifying for the eighth time.