Tension rises in Korean soccer match

A North Korean youth soccer team refused to play a South Korean side in a tournament held in China, citing cross-border tension after the death of leader Kim Jong Il, an official said Tuesday.

The two countries were preparing to play each other Monday in the southern Chinese city of Kunming as part of an annual regional event between young soccer players from the two Koreas, Japan and China.

But the North’s players were ordered to leave the field before kick-off "due to a government policy not to deal with the South," according to an official from the South Korean city of Incheon that helped arrange the event.

"The North’s officials said they couldn’t participate in the game due to its government’s policy not to deal with the South, announced after Kim Jong Il’s death," an Incheon city spokesman told AFP.

"The players [from the two sides] were taking photos together and warming up for the game, but only 30 minutes later the North’s players were ordered to leave."

The event will go ahead with the remaining three teams, he said, adding the city had no plan to complain to the North.

Youth soccer squads from Incheon, the Japanese city of Yokohama and China’s Yunnan province are taking part.

The North has warned the world to expect no policy change under the leadership of Kim Jong Eun, who took power after his father died on December 17.

It vows never to have dealings with the South’s conservative administration, accusing it of failing to respect the mourning period for the late leader.