North Korea's World Cup debut elicited touching stories about the ragtag group of soccer fans "hand-picked" by the Communist regime to support their squad in South Africa. Turns out they were hand-picked for their skill at not being Korean.
The UK's Telegraph reported last month that China had already recruited actors and provided them with tickets to South Africa, so they could go and pretend to root for their sort-of allies. No North Korea citizen could possibly get a visa to leave the country and even if they could, they could never afford the bus trip to Pretoria. Even so, the fans and some media outlets went along with the ruse that they were loyal Koreans, even as Chinese officials admitted the truth to Reuters.
The 100 or so fans decked out in red, white, and blue sure looked like they belonged to the Hermit Kingdom when they got off the plane this morning waving DPRK flags . They made ridiculous boasts about expecting to be up 2-nil on the Brazilians at halftime and expressed love and support (through translators, of course) for their South Korea brothers. They told reporters they were hand-picked by Kim Jong-Il's government to attend the festivities and they even made the team's star player cry during the national anthem. But perhaps he was crying because he knew, like everything else about his country, it was a total sham.
Sure, North Korea could have actually selected an elite group of propaganda-loving supporters to represent their country as spectators, but the last time they did that, the group of mini-skirted cheerleaders who attended a tournament in South Korea broke their promise not to reveal to their countrymen what they saw below the DMZ. They reportedly ended up in concentration camps.
The only real North Korean fans you'll find are the escaped dissidents who still love their homeland—but they won't be cheering too loudly, lest the Dear Leader's goons track them down and haul them back for execution. Hey, but at least the crazy antics of Earth's wackiest dictator provided us with the best sports stadium sign we've seen in a while.
Bravo, sirs. I guess we should be glad that they at least have the Chinese actors on their side. It's hard not to pull for this North Korean squad, because even though a strong showing would be an unfortunate PR win for their leader, at least the players will get to eat when they go home.
(Sign shot via Wheresweems)
UPDATE: AOL News interviewed a North Korean diplomat who claims some of the fans are actually North Korean