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N. Korean player regurgitates praise on leader after match with Brazil

All Headlines 17:52 June 17, 2010

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- The North Korean player who scored a goal against Brazil in a World Cup match earlier this week has said his team will prove a strong contender if it fights with the "audacity of the General," regurgitating an apparatchik-like reference to leader Kim Jong-il.

Ji Yun-nam said in an interview with Chosun Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper published in Japan, that he was excited to score against world champion Brazil on Wednesday, but wished his team had not given up two goals earlier in the game.

"It would have been nicer if we had finished the game in a draw," he said in the interview apparently conducted immediately after the North's 1-2 defeat. "I am confident that we will play good matches if we fight with the same mettle and audacity as the General has."

North Korea runs a massive cult of personality built around the 68-year-old leader and his family. The leader is known as an avid football fan.

North Korea, ranked lowest among this year's World Cup participants, is set to play against Portugal and Ivory Coast in Group G matches next week. Ji, 34, said that the remaining matches will be "difficult," but that his team remains confident, having exhibited tenacity that has intrigued many football fans around the world.

In a separate report from Pyongyang, Chosun Sinbo said Pyongyang looked like a "deserted city" Wednesday evening when North Korean television aired the full recorded match against Brazil.

"Even though quite a few citizens knew the results already, most citizens went home to watch the broadcast" it said. "The number of people using the subway, trams and trolleys was extremely small after eight in the evening. There were few people or cars moving in the city."

North Korea has qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time in 44 years. Media reports from Pyongyang said the impoverished country is swept with football fever.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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