"The South Korean team is very strong," added Kim. "They are speedy but our players have the spirit to win and that's why we won the match against them."
 
The South Korean coach, An Jong Goan, repaid the compliment to his northern colleagues.
 
"They are quick and good at individual play," said An.
 
North and South Korea marched together under a "unification" flag at the opening ceremony here last week, in the first sign of reconciliation since the North tested a nuclear weapon in October.
 
About 150 athletes from the South and 120 from the North took part under the single country name of "Korea", accompanied by a national traditional folk song.
 
Nuclear reaction
 
The Koreas have marched together during the opening and closing ceremonies of an international multi-sports event seven times since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, although the nuclear test ended any hopes of a unified team in Doha.
 
They have twice fielded a unified team to international events - a world football championship and world table tennis championship, both in the early 1990s - but never to one such as the Olympics or Asian Games.
 
Officials from both sides met here to discuss a possible unified team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
 
On Thursday, North Korea used their power and poise to great effect with three goals in the first 17 minutes as they mastered the atrocious, rain-soaked conditions to see off South Korea.
 
The only negative for North Korea was that the South's goal ended their run of seven clean sheets in Asian Games soccer, a run stretching back to the 1998 Games when they lost 1-0 to China.
 
Meanwhile, Azusa Iwashimizu scored the only goal of the game in the 27th minute as Japan beat China 1-0.
 
The semi-finals of the women's football event take place on Friday with the final on December 13.