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2010s / North Korean Soccer Team Punished For Losing
The North Korean soccer team qualified for the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa. Their chances of success were considered slim. In fact North Korean television, fearing an embarrassment, planned no coverage of the team's games. They lost their first match to mighty Brazil by a close 2-1 score. With cause for optimism, arrangements were made for the team's second game to be broadcast in North Korea. To the chagrin of the communist regime, Portugal routed the North Koreans 7-0. As soon as the score reached 2-0, the signal was yanked off the air. In their final game, Ivory Coast beat North Korea 3-0. When the players returned home, they were publicly shamed: the team and its manager were forced onto a stage at the People's Palace of Culture in front of 400 government officials, students, and journalists. According to reports, the athletes were subjected to a six-hour barrage of criticism for their poor performances that was led by a TV commentator and sports minister Pak Myong-chol. The players were asked to step up in turn and publicly criticize manager Kim Jong-hun, who had apparently been singled out for punishment. He was forced into a construction job because, it is thought, his team's failure was seen as a personal betrayal of Kim Jong-un, the son of leader Kim Jong-il.