Report: NKorean fans cheer SKorea's World Cup win

Report: NKorean fans cheer SKorea's World Cup win

Published Jun. 15, 2010 4:01 a.m. ET

North Korean soccer fans in Pyongyang cheered for South Korea in its 2-0 win over Greece at the World Cup, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan reported Tuesday.

World Cup fever is high on the divided Korean peninsula as the South and North Korean teams have qualified for the same tournament for the first time.

``Citizens cheered South Korean team with no exception,'' according to the Japan-based Choson Sinbo newspaper, considered a mouthpiece for North Korea's government.

North Korean state television aired coverage Monday night of South Korea's match against Greece, two days after it took place in South Africa.


The newspaper quoted an unidentified Pyongyang citizen as saying that North Koreans dislike South Korea's conservative government, but like its people. That echoes North Korea's official line.

Two commentators for Korean Central Broadcasting dryly narrated the game and expressed little excitement at a goal by South Korean player Park Ji-sung. They calmly offered analysis into the technical skills leading to the score.

North Korea plays its first game Tuesday against Brazil.

North Korea's first and only previous trip to soccer's premier event was in 1966 when its shocking 1-0 win over Italy sent the team into the quarterfinals. South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with Japan and advanced to the semifinals, its best performance ever.

The North's state television has also aired other World Cup matches, raising questions how the isolated communist country obtained the footage.

South Korea's SBS television, which owns the broadcast rights for the entire Korean peninsula, has not provided live coverage to North Korea due to current political tensions.

SBS reportedly said it was considering what steps to take as it investigates how North Korea secured the footage.

Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula following the March sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul has blamed on Pyongyang. Forty-six South Korean sailors died.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council said late Monday it is ``gravely concerned'' that the sinking could endanger peace on the peninsula and urged Seoul and Pyongyang to refrain from any provocative acts.

South Korea accused North Korea at the council meeting of torpedoing the ship, but the North denied responsibility and called itself ``a victim.''