North Korean team 'reprimanded'
World Cup squad given six-hour dressing down after poor results, report says.
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2010 20:59 GMT
North Korean soccer team lost all its three matches in the first round of World Cup finals last June [EPA]

The North Korean football team have reportedly been severely reprimanded after losing all three of their games at the World Cup in South Africa.

Kim Jong-Hun, the coach, and his team were summoned to the People's Palace of Culture in the capital, Pyongyang for a dressing down on July 2, US-based Radio Free Asia reported on Thursday.

Myong Chol, the sports minister, was among about 400 government officials, students and athletes that too part in the six-hour session, the report said.

Players were forced to reprimand their coach at the end of the gathering, it said.

Kim Jong-Hun was also apparently made to work on a building site and expelled from the Workers' Party of Korea.

The criticism at the meeting was led by Ri Dong-Kyu, a commentator for state TV, which made the 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Portugal its first ever live sports broadcast.

The decision to show the game live came in the wake of an encouraging 2-1 defeat to Brazil. North Korea lost their final game 3-0 to Ivory Coast.

The Radio Free Asia report cited two unidentified sources in North Korea and a Chinese businessman named Yu, described as knowledgeable about North Korea affairs.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service said it could not immediately confirm the report.

'Ideological shortcomings'

However, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted a South Korean intelligence source as saying: "In the past, North Korean athletes and coaches who performed badly were sent to prison camps.

"Considering the high hopes North Koreans had for the World Cup, the regime could have done worse things to the team than just reprimand them for their ideological shortcomings."

North Korea was competing in only its second World Cup in 44 years.

Pak Du Ik, who led his country to the quarterfinals in England in 1966, had previously told television news agency APTN that the team would receive a warm welcome in Pyongyang despite their lack of success.

"Now when the Korean team gets home, officials and crowds of people will go to the airport to welcome them," he said.

"We have learned a lesson from the three World Cup matches, we accumulated experience and we found an answer to how to improve our

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