Country: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Nickname: The Chollima (“The Thousand-Mile Horse”; how awesome is that?)
Player to Watch: Myong-Guk Ri. DPRK likes to sit back and play defense; the other three teams in the group like to score. If North Korea has any chance, it will be because of Ri.
Artist to Watch: State Symphony Orchestra of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Without a doubt, the team representing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the biggest unknown quantity heading to South Africa, which makes perfect sense because the entire nation, at least as far as the western world is concerned, is shrouded in mystery. And what we do know, isn’t good. It’s a communist nation, replete with all the expected totalitarian hindrances like human rights violations and government oppression of its own citizens; the nation functions as, what is by all accounts is a dictatorship, and is led by the eccentric and short-tempered cult of personality that is Kim Jonh-il; after World War II it was cleaved from South Korea along the 38th parallel, a contentions relationship that has spilled into formal declarations of war once, and is presently potentially on the verge of another war, this time with nuclear weapons; Pyongyang is the capital city… that’s about it, really.
The culture of Korea, in the particular case of this site, the music, is equally secretive to western audiences that haven’t purposefully sought it out. If you search for “North Korean Music” on YouTube, the first clip is of a lady furiously playing a stringed instrument. Or perhaps you’ve seen clips of Pungmul, which while not exclusive to the Northern part of the Korean Peninsula, is a ferocious mix of dance and drumming that’s work checking out. Like the two examples above, most of modern North Korean music represents classical and folk musical traditions, with a bulk of the production stemming from massive, government controlled musical organizations of both military and civilian origin.
Theoretically, North Korea’s anonymity should work to it’s advantage. Based on the few qualifiers that their opponents can use as scouting tools, The Chollima play a defensive-minded and counter-attacking game. But in this tournament, DPRK won’t be playing the Turkmenistans, Jordans, or even the South Koreas of the world. Rope-a-dope simply won’t work against Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire and Portugal, all who look to score in bunches. Predicting how the World Cup will play out is usually for fools, but in all likelihood, North Korea are going to South Africa just to lose three quick games before returning to the secrecy from whence they came.