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Ministry voices disappointment over N. Korea's decision to pull out of World Cup qualifiers

All News 11:25 May 17, 2021

SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry on Monday expressed disappointment over North Korea's final decision to withdraw from a World Cup qualifier set to take place in the South next month.

On Sunday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed the withdrawal of the North from the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

"The unification ministry has maintained the stance that it is desirable to use the World Cup and other international games as an opportunity for inter-Korean exchange in sports," Lee Jong-joo, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

"As such, we find North Korea's decision to be disappointing," Lee said.

South Korea will continue efforts to seek other opportunities to make progress in inter-Korean cooperation but has no plans to reach out to the North regarding the World Cup qualifiers, she added.

Earlier this month, the Korea Football Association (KFA) said its North Korean counterpart, known as the DPR Korea Football Association, had sent an official document to the AFC to express its intention not to participate in the qualifiers, citing coronavirus concerns.

North Korea will also be skipping the 2023 Asian Cup, to be held in China, as a result of their decision to withdraw from the qualifiers.

In this file photo provided by the Korea Football Association, players from South Korea (in white) and North Korea (in red) acknowledge one another after playing to a scoreless draw in a World Cup qualifying match at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang on Oct. 15, 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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