Last Night's (And Every Night's) Winner: Soccer Players Who Don't Live In North Korea

In sports, everyone is a winner-some people just win better than others. Like World Cup squads not from secretive despotic nations, who probably weren't subjected to a six-hour public humiliation upon their return from South Africa like the North Koreans were.

Hundreds of thousands of Dutch fans came out to cheer their team, despite their loss in the final. But that's the Dutch. The North Koreans? Well, they're more like the Yankees of the soccer world.

Let me finish, before you go spreading that quote. Making the field of 32 is an accomplishment for any team, let alone the 105th ranked DPRK squad. Just going to South Africa should have been a national triumph. But the powers that be north of the 38th parallel, much like the Yankees, aren't satisfied with a good showing. It's win it all, or you're a failure. And when they didn't? Well, that's not good news for the players.

According to reports out of Pyongyang, upon their return from the World Cup, the team was summoned the Working People's Cultural Palace and berated for their performance.

More than 400 people, including athletes, students and apparatchiks watched a sports commentator single out each player in turn, and point out their mistakes. They were forced to criticize their coach, Kim Jong-Hun.

Kim could be in worse trouble. He was accused of "betraying the Young Gen. Kim Jong Un," North Korea's heir apparent. According to rumors, he's been sent to perform forced labor.

So cheer up, Robert Green! A tabloid drubbing is like a walk in the park by comparison.

And cheer up, North Korean soccer team. Ever heard of Andrés Escobar?


World Cup Team Shamed, Reprimanded
[Radio Free Asia]