The DPR Korea (North Korea) Football Association accepted the decision made by FIFA on May 16 to hold the DPR Korea Japan preliminary competition match on June 8 behind closed doors at a neutral venue in Bangkok, Thailand.
Lee Kang Hong (42) of the DPR Korea Football Association, in an exclusive interview with Sports Nippon, a Japanese sports daily, said, We are angry with the undeserved heavy punishment, but we have decided to follow the decision, considering the international situation.
However, some observers suggest that North Korea may have an ulterior motive for accepting the heavy punishment. They point out that North Korea will be imposed an enormous political burden if it loses to Japan, which is considered to have a stronger team.
If thousands of Japanese shout for joy and celebrate victory in a stadium named after Kim Il Sung, who has been respected as a hero in the war with Japan, this would hurt the North Korean peoples pride. Given the regimes unique situation, it could become a more serious problem to North Korea than the national teams failure to advance to the World Cup.
North Korea did not accept the decision quietly. The DPR Korea Football Association sent its appeal on May 3, only two days before the deadline. The appeal arrived at the Organizing Committee for the FIFA World Cup on May 9 and was automatically rejected. In other words, North Korea tried to race after two hares: maintaining the pride and easing political burden.