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Inter-Korean Workers' Football Match

There wasn’t any K League action at the Seoul World Cup stadium this weekend, but there was a football match watched by over ten thousand spectators. Our Steve Price went to take a look at the Inter-Korean Workers' Football Match.


There have been a series of sports exchanges between North and South Korea since the two formed a joint womens’ ice hockey team for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. They have had sporting exchanges in basketball, taekwondo, and table tennis, and this weekend it was football’s turn.

A large group of South Korean youth footballers crossed the inter-Korean border on Friday, heading to Pyongyang for an international under-15 football tournament. Heading the other way, a group of North Koreans headed to Seoul to take part in the first inter-Korean workers’ football matches held in the South in over ten years.


Reports claim there were over 30,000 people in attendance. I reckon the number was somewhere between 10 and 20,000, most of whom had inflatable blue clappers with a white outline of the Korean peninsula and the words ‘woorineun hana’, loosely translated as ‘we are one’, written on the side. The crowd seemed a bit older than the average K League crowd, and mainly chose to sit in the shade of the upper tier. 


There were two matches, each just an hour long, but football was a rather small part of the afternoon, with over two hours of introductions, formalities, and musical performances before the first game kicked off. A temporary stage had been constructed at the side of the pitch, but rather than cheerleaders, a band played ballads through the first half, as if to slow down the game even more. No effort was spared in the presentation, although judging by the warm Cass, somebody clearly forgot to plug in the beer fridge.

The first match took place between Jikchon Construction, wearing red, and Korea Labour Union, wearing sky blue. The red team had the better chances of the game and were two nil up by the end of the thirty-minute first half. They could have been further ahead if not for some good saves by the sky blue team's goalkeeper. After some Soviet-styled half time music and flag waving, the red team added to their lead with a third goal and I decided to leave so I could get some dinner, quite a few other people had the same idea. The attendance might have been the highest in South Korea this weekend, but this match had very little to do with football.

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