On the eve of the World Cup, North Korea's FIFA ranking is holding steady at 137, which sounds pretty bad until you remember that places the North Koreans ahead of fully 70 other countries, unincorporated territories, protectorates and, in the case of No. 177 Curaçao, even an overachieving liqueur. And yet Korea DPR has tired of looking up to such soccer powers as Syria, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Floridian bar cover band St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and just about every country an alert high schooler could name off the top of her head.
If North Korea is to claim its rightful destiny, it decided, it will have to invest in its youth. Preferably by actually providing them with nutrients.
That can-feed attitude led to the creation, about a year ago, of the Pyongyang International Football School. The school would like to remind you of its existence, and of your limited remaining time not under the benevolent, inevitable domination of North Korean soccer. In the spirit of friendship, and of insuring against potential sudden disappearances of online material, we're passing along the school's latest update, with emphases added:
Promising Footballers Grow
Nearly one year has elapsed since the opening of Pyongyang International Football School.
The respected Marshal Kim Jong Un visited the school in June last year. He instructed officials that the school should constantly improve the education content and method in accordance with the demand of the developing reality and properly organize the work of management and operation so as to bring up a large number of reserves of promising footballers.
Last year has witnessed laudable successes made in training pillars who will shoulder the soccer development of the country.
Above all, it built up teachers who will conduct education at a high phase.
It strictly selected students, pillars for soccer development of the country. Promising are all the students studying at the school.
Now one hundred and scores of students are studying at the school, divided into primary, middle and senior classes.
Each student is provided with nourishing meal according to his or her health and dietary custom amid the attention of the state.
The school has artificial and natural turf football grounds for international games.
Students of the school trounced all its rivals at the international junior football contest held in China in March this year, winning a gold medal.
There's also video at the link that includes synchronized ball handling. Assurances, Korea DPR, SFW. And if anyone knows of this "international junior football contest" at which unnamed students did this alleged trouncing ...?
Bullshit aside, North Korea remains a world hub of human suffering, and the breath of world sport seems likely only to improve circumstances there. A North Korean refugee now living in South Korea wrote recently of the impact that cultural influences — including WWE wrestling — had on shaping her view of the world. Particularly gung-ho amateur diplomats could even go so far as to apply to the Pyongyang International Football School — it claims to welcome students from outside countries.
Photo credit of North Korea's Pak Kwang Ryong heading a ball past South Korea's goalkeeper Lim Min-hyeok at the 2013 East Asian Games: AP