Eschewing the Gallagher brothers halfway across town, I will instead be attending an event of a more estranged brotherly nature. Yes, not since Country House took on Roll With It in the UK Top 40 has there been a North vs South contest this juicy. On that occasion South was victorious- but will it be this time? . . .
The answer to that self-posed question was yes- South Korea edged out the North with a late late goal to win 1-0 and move atop their World Cup Qualifying Group. In many ways the match… disappointed- skillful, slick moves were almost entirely absent, and despite an abundance of possesion South Korea both failed to create then when they did remarkably failed to take a number of chances…
With all the pre-match hyperbole it was notably the trappings of the game that were of more significance, particularly given the recent political climate. The moment of the match was the national anthems- hoards of international press photographed the North Korean 11 while their anthem played out over the stadium and a giant North Korean flag was shown on the TV screen at World Cup Stadium- an eerie moment indeed. Still, the crowd (all South, no away fans) responded with polite applause to the anthem, and throughout the game there were good spirits, making it hard for one to tell that this really was North Korea vs South Korea. There was also the singing of “Arirang”, a song known to both the North and South and the closest there was to a poignant moment of unity during the game.
It took until the 88th minute until the huffing and puffing of the South’s attack finally blew the North’s wall down- and after the game there were handshakes before I had to dash off to avoid queues at the subway station.