Friday, May 14, 2010

North Korea Recruits Chinese Fans

Back to North Korea and how pitiful it is. If they weren't representing the most loathesome government on the planet (or one in the top five, anyway), we would feel sorry for them. Actually, I do feel sorry for the soccer team and the regular fans. They didn't do any of this.

Well, of course, North Korea will have no fans in South Africa. It can't afford to send its politically reliable people and everyone else really doesn't have any money, so the North Koreans are about to play three very high-profile matches (Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast) with nobody in the stands. And how sad is that?

So, the North Koreans are recruiting fans from the only country that is likely to stick up for them. That would be China. To China's shame, because doing anything that props up that regime is criminal.

But, anyway, here is a ridiculous/pathetic story about North Korea and its Chinese fans.

1,000 Chinese to cheer for NKorea at World Cup

BEIJING (AP) -- Few North Koreans will be able to cheer their team at the World Cup in South Africa. So the country is recruiting 1,000 Chinese fans.

The Beijing office of the North Korean Sports Committee is giving out tickets to the tournament, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Chinese fans will attend North Korea’s games against Brazil and Portugal, Xinhua said.

This is just the second time North Korea has qualified for the World Cup. It shocked the world with its first appearance in 1966 when it beat Italy and reached the quarterfinals.

The Chinese fans who will support North Korea this time include celebrities who have led similar groups to cheer for Chinese teams in the past.

The Beijing office of the North Korean Sports Committee could not be reached on Friday.

North Korea is the great unknown in the World Cup. News in the communist regime is strictly controlled.

Broadcaster APTN in Pyongyang reported that the national team received a festive send-off on Saturday, with residents waving North Korean flags outside the airport as the players arrived. Footage showed women waving flowers as the team boarded the plane.

Coach Kim Jong Hun promised "a great success."

China is North Korea’s chief benefactor, and it apparently respected the wishes of the country’s reclusive leader Kim Jong Il last week when it refused to confirm his secretive visit to Beijing until he had left.

Chinese support for North Korean sports teams is not new. A China-based sports apparel maker, Erke, sponsored all of North Korea’s teams in the Beijing Olympics two years ago, and it now sponsors the country’s football team.

That's just sad. We don't trust our people to travel, not that we can afford it considering half of us are on the verge of starvation, not that we ever would admit to it, so we're going to get the Chinese to show up and act like our fans.

Can't root for these guys. Because the government will claim any success as its own. What I root for, I suppose, is defections. But the North Koreans no doubt are worried that if they do their friends and family will be forced to subsist on half-rations of gruel.

And the Chinese fans ... can the make a point of cheering half-heartedly? Even China ought to be embarrassed by being North Korea's best buddy.

For sure, the weirdest team in the World Cup. Not even close.
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