Hails from: Japan
Occupation: Striker for North Korea’s 2010 World Cup Team
Y’all, I’m not gonna front. I am not a fan of The Other Football. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching a soccer match, it’s just that I don’t feel compelled to. I didn’t grow up watching soccer in Texas–soccer was the sport you played at my high school if you were too small for football, basketball, baseball, swimming and even, trust me on this one, tennis–so I’ve never bothered to learn its nuances. I realize that this is considered by most of the world to be a personality defect, and I accept that.
But you don’t need to know much about the game to be intrigued by Jong Tae-se, star striker for North Korea’s 2010 World Cup team, who got pummeled 7-0 by Portugal yesterday, which got TIME magazine wondering if the loss was “A Fatal Loss of Face?” Jong was born and plays professionally in Japan, is third-generation South Korean, but attended North Korean sponsored-schools in Japan, and has chosen to represent North Korea in its first World Cup since 1966.
North Korea’s 44 year-absence from the tournament may explain why Jong bawled his eyes out during the playing of the North Korean national anthem before its match with Brazil. A show of emotion that got him named to “The 10 least sexy World Cup players” by GlobalPost. Which seems pretty unforgiving, given the complicated snarl that is Jong’s nationality, and the rabid nationalism that the World Cup brings out in pretty much everyone globally. (Also: Weren’t sports and international competition invented so that grown men would have a safe place to cry? I mean, really.)
And while I don’t know much about soccer, I do know that this…
…are not making me love the sport less, by any means.
Filed under: Chong Tese, Dear Leader, Football, Footie, Jong Tae-se, Kim Jong Il, Men Who Cry In Public, Nationalism, North Korea, North Korea World Cup 2010, North Koreans, Soccer, South Koreans, The Other Football, World Cup
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