"After watching the match, leader Kim Jong-Il congratulated the players on their good results, saying that the revolutionary and militant students in our country are good at art and sporting activities while devoting all their wisdom and enthusiasm to the study of science for the country and the people."

Missing in action

Kim had not been seen in public since mid-August. He also failed to appear at an anniversay parade on September 9.

According to US and South Korean officials, he suffered a stroke and had undergone brain surgery.

Rumours of his health raised questions about succession in Asia's only communist dynasty, as well as speculation as to who would make future decisions about the country's nuclear programme.