South Koreans not fired up about North Korea

15 June 2010 - 11:54 By Sapa-dpa

But when their brethren to the north make their first World Cup appearance on Tuesday in over 40 years, most screens across the country will likely remain dark.

Kim Myung Shik, 29, a graduate student at Yonsei University in Seoul, said he’s not planning to tune in to see North Korea play Brazil.

“I’d like to know the game result, but I’m not interested about [watching] their game, honestly,” Kim said, adding that he “of course” watched the South Korea match on Saturday.

The time of the match plays a factor in the numbers tuning in, as local broadcaster SBS will air the North Korea-Brazil match live at 3:30 am Wednesday morning, whereas the South Korea-Greece game was at 8:30 pm Korea time.

A more casual football fan, Ryu Anna, 26, a graphic designer, said she would not stay up for the North Korea-Brazil match.

“In my opinion, North Korea in the World Cup is like any other country,” Ryu said. “I’m hoping they have a good match, even though recently our relationship is not that good.”

Ryu was referring to ongoing political tension over North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean naval ship in March in which 46 sailors died. Pyongyang on Saturday threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” over that claim.

Politics does play a role in how some football fans see the North Korean team.

“Although I try to distance politics from sports, I can’t bring myself to support them,” said Ko Jiha, a recent college graduate who is now doing his mandatory military service.

“I will try to watch the matches — I’ve watched almost every match so far — as I do have a strong interest in how the North Korean national team will fare on the world stage,” he said. “But I won’t be supporting them. In fact, I’ll probably be celebrating every goal scored against them.”

Ko insisted that the naval disaster had nothing to do with his sentiments.

“Although I am very curious as to how they do, I hope that they don’t do well at all,” he said.