Hua's note: Readers of this space will recall our enduring fascination with Cristiano Ronaldo, whose Portugal side is currently engaged in a fits-and-starts, rain-soaked battle with the Ivory Coast. This, then, is a morning to revisit Pete L'Official's meditation on the mercurial (more on this word later this week...) Portuguese star, from back when this blog had a proper RSS feed.
So far: I wrote about the World Cup TV commercials, Anmol Chaddha considered the meaning of rooting for South Africa, Pete L'Official measured the dimensions of Louis Vuitton's World Cup trophy case, Anmol reported on R. Kelly's allegiances, I wrote about vuvuzelas and Piotr Orlov recounted the beauty and tragedy of Dutch football. This afternoon: our first look at North Korea. Why don't we first look at this YouTube clip, which illustrates what all those North Korean bars will be buzzing about later today:
There's Two Koreas?
By Hua Hsu
Oh how the underdogs capture our imagination, even when they may or may not have been hand-selected by Kim Jong-Il. Of the many comments that accompany the above YouTube clip, which features the North Korean World Cup squad training at a public gym in Johannesburg, this one just about sums up the complexities of merging the trope of the sporting longshot with real global politics:
Cool! Reminds me of the Rocky-movies, when Sly trained in the freezer room in the meat plant, catching chickens and running around while his opponents had state-of-the-art doctors and equipment. Very sympathetic, I will root for them in their game vs. Brazil. Good luck! :)
As adjacent posters point out, the North Koreans' no doubt pathetic training budget has everything to do with the mysterious appetites of Kim Jong-Il. And it's not as though the North Koreans view themselves the way the rest of the world might: "North Korea will win the World Cup," the vice president of the North Korea Football Association told FourFourTwo magazine this past spring.