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Thae Yong-ho says ‘a tie saved Son from injury’

Posted October. 17, 2019 07:29,   

Updated October. 17, 2019 07:29


The 2020 Qatar World Cup qualifier between the two Koreas drew 0-0 to an empty stadium in Pyongyang on Tuesday - There were no fans in the stands, no live broadcast and no win. North Korea's former deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom Thae Yong-ho said on Wednesday at “NK Premium Network,” a lecture on North Korea organized by The Dong-A Ilbo, “South Korean football fans are extremely disappointed by the result, but the match saved many lives.”

Explaining how elaborate and detailed the process of idolizing its leader is in North Korea, Thae also said, “Oct. 13 is the national sports day in North Korea. If it had lost, it would have ruined the reputation of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.” He said Rodong Sinmun covered last Sunday how the Kim family nurtured and developed sports for the country, an added layer of pressure that the sports authorities and players would not have been able to handle if they had lost.

“The North Korean authorities did not publicize the match results let alone the fact that it hosted a game against South Korea. A tie saved South Korean players as well as Kim Jong Un, North Korean football authorities and players. If South Korea had won, Son Heung-min would have probably ended up with a broken leg,” said the former ambassador.

Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com