North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

DPRK World Cup Team Subjected to Public Criticism Session

The People's Palace of Culture (L) in central Pyongyang was the setting of an alleged criticism session of the DPRK's World Cup team. The team and its coach were compelled to stand on a stage while 400 officials, athletes and students criticized their performance in South Africa (Photo: GoogleEarth)

The DPRK’s World Cup team, including head coach Kim Jong-hun, were reportedly subjected to a public criticism session, attended by 400 DPRK Party and government officials, People’s Athletes and students from the country’s sports colleges.  Among the criticisms leveled at the team, was their “betrayal of the trust of Kim Jong-un.”  The criticism session was held on 2 July at the People’s Palace of Culture in central Pyongyang.  According to this report, the coach and team assembled on a stage and were critcized for their performance on the field by the group, which may have included Minister of Physical Culture and Sports (and National Defense Commission Councilor), Pak Myong Chol.

This video clip released by shows the North Korean national football team leaving a North Korean restaurant in Beijing on June 28 on their way home after the World Cup in South Africa. (Photo: Chosun Ilbo/Courtesy of

Chosun Ilbo citing an RFA story, reports:

North Korea’s national football team were given a marathon public reprimand after losing all three of their World Cup matches, including a 0-7 rout at the hands of Portugal that has been blamed on leader Kim Jong-il’s inept orders, Radio Free Asia reported Monday.

Citing unnamed North Korean sources, RFA said the team were made to stand on a stage at the People’s Palace of Culture on July 2, just three days after they returned from South Africa, and subjected to ideological criticism for six hours. The team’s two Japanese-born players, Jong Tae-se and An Yong-hak, were exempt from the session.

Around 400 officials including the vice minister of the Workers’ Party, Sports Minister Pak Myong-chol, other athletes and sport students were apparently part of the audience. Ri Dong-kyu, a sports commentator for the North’s state-run Korean Central TV, pointed out the mistakes of each player.

“Coach Kim Jong-hun and the team’s athletes were made to stand on a stage and other North Korean athletes and students took turns criticizing the players. At the end of the session the team members were made to criticize their coach,” RFA quoted a source as saying.

Kim So-hyun reports in Korea Herald:

“The representatives of the national teams and varsity teams criticized the soccer players and coach Kim Jung-hoon who were put on stage. Sports commentator Rhee Dong-gyu pointed out the flaws of each player, followed by criticism from other participants.”

Each player of the national soccer team was made to pass judgment on their coach Kim at the end of the meeting, according to RFA.

“Blaming the national team for letting General Kim Jong-un down, the meeting was about having someone take responsibility. I don’t think coach Kim Jung-hoon could have escaped punishment,” RFA said citing another source in Sinuiju.

North Korea had propagandized its soccer team’s entry into the World Cup finals as a result of Kim Jong-un’s leadership as the regime paves the way for the heir to succeed his father and incumbent leader Kim Jong-il.

North Korea also recently replaced the chief of its soccer association.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency referred to Trade Minister Rhee Ryong-nam as “chief of the soccer association” as it reported the completed remodeling of a dorm for the national soccer team last week, confirming the removal of his predecessor Moon Jae-chul.

An affiliate of 38 North