Specifically, Korean and Japanese, from the NYT:
…While many teams complained about the official World Cup balls, Japan and South Korea simply practiced with them until they grew comfortable with their speed and trajectory.
For fans, yesterday’s US victory over the plucky Algerians to qualify for World Cup outrounds was tremendously emotional. Many pundits have discussed the different factors at work in American soccer, including the different kinds of athleticism and attitude that have sustained American soccer on the world stage. Here is a good thought on the subject from today’s NYT:
Midway through the second half, while watching Howard rush the ball toward his mates, I thought about something Alexi Lalas told me more than a decade ago when he was playing for Calcio Padova in the Italian Serie A. Some players on that weak team would give up if they fell a goal behind on the road, Lalas said, but American athletes would never give up.
It was an interesting point of view, and I was reminded of it again on Wednesday when Tim Howard sent the ball downfield, and a whole track team of runners sprinted after it for the goal that did, at least for three days, change everything.
How many North Koreans who have been permitted to attend the World Cup will attempt to defect? Alternatively, how difficult is it for the North Korean government to maintain tangible leverage on those attending?
For some historical parallels, consider defectors from the Soviet Union, many of whom were athletes or competitors in international competitions of some kind.
Here is one estimate of the number of North Koreans in attendance (~40).