North Korea at the World Cup

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Bryan Clark of England who's at the World Cup in South Africa, about why he's a fan of the North Korean soccer team.

MARCO WERMAN: China's neighbor to the east, North Korea, made a fine showing yesterday at the World Cup in South Africa. North Korea's soccer team is the lowest ranked team in the tournament. It lost to Brazil, but only two to one, managing to keep the perennially talented Brazilians on their toes for 90 minutes. Bryan Clark from England was on hand for the game in Johannesburg and he was rooting for North Korea all the way.

BRYAN CLARK: I'm passionate about football and I've been trying for many years to go and watch North Korea play. It took me three, four years of trying before I was even granted a visa to go and as it became more and more difficult I became more and more determined. I even went once to Pyongyang and the match was canceled. That made me even more determined.

WERMAN: So for you it was actually the challenge of being a supporter of a team of a rogue nation, is that it?

CLARK: It was to a certain extent, but once I got there I sort of fell in love with the place. I've now been four times to North Korea and, as you said, they're playing one of the best teams in the world and they certainly didn't disgrace themselves. They were well disciplined, they were well organized and I think they played very well.

WERMAN: I just have to follow up on your falling in love with North Korea. The people I know who have been there say the North Koreans are among the saddest people in the world and it's a psychologically cold place. You fell in love with the country though?

CLARK: Yeah. The people are as passionate in North Korea about their football as anywhere else in the world. When I've been there, for all its problems and all its faults, they look after you. You're made extremely welcome. There are restrictions, there's no denying that, but if you accept that, you know every time I've been I've had a great time.

WERMAN: Now when North Korea played Brazil yesterday, during the opening playing of the respective national anthems of the teams, I noticed that one of the North Koreans, during their anthem, was crying. I'm wondering where those real tears or kind of obligatory tears for the anthem for the dear leader.

CLARK: No, I think it was real tears because they were so proud to have got there. They are really passionate, North Koreans, about any sport and the opportunity for them to play on the world stage is something that doesn't come very often to them.

WERMAN: Bryan Clark from England, he's in Johannesburg supporting his favorite team, North Korea. Enjoy the rest of the Cup Bryan.

CLARK: I will do. Thank you.