N., S. Korean Workers Play Friendly Soccer Game

The People’s Korea, 19 August 1999

The atmosphere was more amicable than competitive. The soccer players in the north and the south hugged, shook hands, patted each other on the back and exchanged their uniforms at the conclusion of a joint soccer event.

The first intra-Korean workers’ reunification soccer event took place for the first time in 54 years on Aug. 12 in Pyongyang under the sponsorship of the General Federation of Trade Unions of north Korea (GFTUK), and the south Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), which sent its 37-member soccer delegation to the north from Aug. 10 to 14.

We did not come simply to kick a ball but as unification delegates, said Ri Gap Yong, chairman of the KCTU in an opening speech. At a time when outside forces are increasing in visibility, workers should lead the advance for peaceful unification, he added.

The working class in the north will always remember the delegates and the players who are returning to the south after doing a praiseworthy thing, said Ryom Sun Gil, chairman of the GFTUK in a farewell reception.

Working class in the north and the south should fling the door of unity open with this meeting as a stepping-stone so as to fulfil their duty in the glorious patriotic cause of reunification for the country and the nation.

DPRK’s Central TV and Broadcasting showed on live a friendly match among workers of the two sides playing in heavy rain in front of handred thousands cheering people packing the Yanggakdo Stadium in Pyongyang on Aug. 12.

North Korean workers scored the first goal and never lost their lead in the match. The final score was 5-4 but the result did not seem to mean anything to the players.

The sky blessed us. The heavy rain was its tears of joy for the reunion of north and south Korean brothers, commented Chong Wui Shik, captain of the south Korean team after the game.

The first contest was followed next day by a combined game at Kim Il Sung Stadium in which players from both sides formed a Solidarity Team and a United Team. The competition drew 4-4.

The south Korean soccer mission returned to Seoul on Aug. 14 through the truth village of Panmunjom.

On the day of its departure, the GFTUK and the KCTU released a joint agreement in which the two sides agreed to hold a 2000 soccer game of workers in the north and the south for reunification without fail.