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NK Soccer Team Protects Secrecy in S. Africa

Posted June. 07, 2010 13:43,   


Near the Makhulong Stadium in the township of Tembisa near Johannesburg Saturday, Caucasians or Asians are hard to find in an area predominantly populated by blacks.

Because of the presence of many illegal immigrants from Nigeria and Zambia, public security is worse in Tembisa than in other South African cities.

Outside the window on the road to the stadium are huge clusters of shoddy homes built with slates and plywood. Kim Sang-hoon, an ethnic Korean resident of South Africa, said, “Walking the three-kilometer distance to the stadium without driving a car is like risking your life.”

The 15,000-capacity stadium is the training venue for North Korea’s national soccer team, which will play in its first World Cup in 44 years.

The team is staying at the Protea Hotel in Midrand after arriving in Johannesburg Tuesday. The stadium is a 20-minute drive from the hotel, an optimal location for the squad`s transportation.

Soccer fans and journalists visiting the area to see the North Koreans, however, will find it difficult to get close to them because of public security. Some say the North chose the place to avoid exposure and allow uninterrupted training.

A Dong-A Ilbo reporter who wanted to see the North`s team practice could not enter the stadium, which was locked from the inside. A security official said the team has been practicing behind closed doors all the time, restricting access by journalists and visitors.

No information was available on the North Korea-Nigeria exhibition game scheduled for Sunday. When the reporter asked the security officer how to get a ticket for the match, he was advised to ask the nearby police station and a town hall.

The reporter was told, however, that he must wait until the day of the match to see if tickets available. South Korea’s national team plans to send four people, including one of its coaches and analysts, to check Nigeria’s performance.

The game against Nigeria will complete North Korea’s preparation for the World Cup. The North is in Group G along with Brazil, Portugal and Cote d’Ivoire.

Despite his team being placed in the "group of death," North Korea striker Jong Tae Se confidently said Brazil will have a hard time against his team.