It's a country with a population of around 24 million, but us Western imperialist pigdogs know very little about North Korea. All we really know is it's super sketchy about its nuclear-weapons program, its supreme leader occasionally breaks into song about how ‘ronery' he is and its national soccer team finds itself in Group G of the World Cup.
North Korea has thus far cancelled press conferences in South Africa, and shunned away nosey journalists looking to get a glimpse of the team training. The veil of mystery around the side, however, was partially lifted Wednesday by Jong Tae-se, dubbed "Asia's Wayne Rooney" (presumably for his offensive technique rather than his offensive language and demeanor). The J. League star — who was actually born in Japan to South Korean heritage — has nonchalantly tipped his side to overcome Brazil on June 15. The Syndey Morning Herald reports:
"The game will be very difficult for us but we will win against Brazil," Jong said, standing with his shoulders back and his chest puffed out proudly.
"Everybody thinks we can't win that game, but we have brave hearts, strong spirits and that can help us make a miracle."
You have to admire Tae-se's optimism; a level of self-belief that is so high, he doesn't feel particularly worried about the Group of Death:
"Everybody called it the 'Death Group' and when we heard about that group we were surprised," he said.
"But I'm happy with that group because before I could only see Kaka and Ronaldo (sitting) in front on TV. Those players are my target, so I'm really looking forward to playing against them."
Most bookies are placing North Korea as rank outsiders to escape the group, many giving them the longest odds of any nation to progress (yes, even Honduras has a better chance). But underestimate North Korea at your peril: in its last World Cup in 1966, it was widely dismissed but managed to beat Italy to earn a quarterfinal place against Portugal, which it led 3-0 before getting smashed 5-3.
- North Korea