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World Cup: North Korea Coach Falls On His Sword

North Korea vs. Portugal Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and North Korea's Hong Yong Jo vie for the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Portugal and North Korea in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, June 21, 2010. Portugal won 7-0. Pictures: World Cup Opening Rounds Full Coverage: 2010 World Cup
AP Photo/Roberto Candia
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and North Korea's Hong Yong Jo vie for the ball during their lopsided match.
Roberto Candia

Perhaps Kim Jong Il will blame AT&T.

Somehow, the telepathic signals that he is said to send to his coach before, during and after a game bounced like the Jabulani ball and disappeared into the ether.

What else could explain a 7-0 dismantling of the North Korean threat by Portugal?

The wave interference must have happened after 29 minutes.

Until then, North Korea was the same, composed, organized team that had made Brazil wonder when its own President might offer a few telepathic signals.

Suddenly, Tiago shared a delightful brainwave with Meireles and North Korea was bounced into bewilderment.

North Korea the country, I mean.

This game was the first that was known to have been televised live in the land that time might never have known. Apparently, a dispute with South Korea, which controls the TV signals, was somehow resolved.

So many North Koreans, desperate to believe in the omnipotence of their Supreme Leader, must have choked on their breath, as they saw six more goals shoveled into North Korean hearts by the dainty, confident Portuguese.

What might the conversations between North Koreans have been like?

"The Portuguese scored another goal?" one bemused fan might have asked.

"That must be some television trickery by the South Koreans," would surely have been reply.

At the end of the game, the North Korean commentator was expansive in his praise for Cristiano Ronaldo and his team.

He said that he hoped the day would come when the North Korean players could pose for Emporio Armani ads and date Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton.

Well, not quite.

"The Portuguese won the game and now have four points. We are ending our live broadcast now," were his final words.

At that, the screen went dark, as did the souls of so many who surely held out hope that, given Portugal's inferiority to Brazil, the North Koreans might offer a shot or two that might be heard around the world.

Many will be concerned that North Korea's players might suffer more than ritual humiliation when they return to native soil.

However, Kim Jong-Hun put worried Western minds to rest before the game.

"In this game sometimes you can win, sometimes you can lose. It doesn't always turn out the way you want it to or expect it to. There are going to be no further consequences after that," he said.

But this was 7-0.

This was like some twisted capitalist walking up to Kim Jong Il, slapping him on the back, mussing his hair and saying: "Is that a wig?"

Kim Jong-Hun's words after the game were also troublingly portentous.

"We couldn't block their attacks, and that's why they scored so often. As a coach, I think it was my fault for not playing with the right strategies," he said

Though the first of these sentences is remarkably sanguine, the second sounds like a man who is prepared to fall on his sword, throat first.

Surely he might have defended himself better than his players defended their goal.

He might have offered criticism of the rainy weather and suggested that this was what had interfered with the signals from the Supreme Leader.

He might have suggested that part of supremacy is humility and that the North Koreans didn't want to unleash their ultimate power, for fear that it would have frightened too many children.

He might even have said: "It's tough being a Supreme Leader. The guy just had an off day."

Instead, a nation groaned and a coach faced an uncertain future.

World domination is a very difficult thing.


Chris Matyszczyk is an award-winning creative director who advises major corporations on content creation and marketing, and an avid sports fan. He is also the author of the popular CNET blog Technically Incorrect.

See also:

Full Coverage: World Cup 2010
Pictures: Opening Rounds of the World Cup
New Zealand Makes Lambs Out of Italy
Slovenia Small Guys Teach U.S. a Big Lesson
South Africa Falls to a Tragedy of Errors
Swiss Make Melted Cheese Out of Spain
North Korea Spooks Brazil
Paraguay Tries to Be Italy, Almost Beats Italy
World Cup: Germany and Ghana Buzz the U.S. Team
World Cup: U.S. Lets England Put Egg on Its Own Face
South Africa Shows the World How Soccer Is Celebrated
Guess Who Will Win the World Cup

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.