Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) watched the final round of men’s premier football (soccer) between the 25 April Team (of the Korean People’s Army [KPA]) and the Sonbong Team (of the Worker Peasant Red Guards [WPRG]) for the Torch Cup at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 28 August (Wednesday). Attending the mat with him were Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Administration Department and Chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission) Col. Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Department***), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and Kim Jong Un’s aunt), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department ) Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kang Sok Ju (DPRK Vice Premier), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim P’yo’ng-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of the Cadres’ Affairs Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Ro Tu Chol (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission), Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), along with “members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, leading officials of the support organizations for various sports events, officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, working people’s organizations, the Cabinet, ministries and national institutions, those in the sports field, sportspersons, service personnel of the People’s Army and youth and students in the city.” Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearances were his guiding an expanded meeting of the Party Central Military Commission and attending a banquet marking the 53rd anniversary of Military-First (So’ngun) Revolutionary Leadership.
According to KCNA, this is how the game went down:
The match started with the kick-off of the Sonbong Team.
The first half ended scoreless even though both teams traded attacks and counterattacks from the outset.
At the second half they changed their attack tactics and formation of defense.
The goalkeeper of the April 25 Team narrowly punched away the ball strongly kicked by player No. 28 of the Sonbong Team in the first minute of the second half, but its player No. 7 lost no time to kick it, scoring the first goal.
The April 25 Team came out in all-out attack, making a good use of its tactical and physical features, to counter its rival’s tactics of persistent attack with nimble and quick passes.
Player No. 11 of the April 25 Team scored the equalizer with heading at around 20th minute of the second half.
The Sonbong Team had an upperhand in ball control in the mid field and sought chances of scoring a goal by flank attacks. Its player No. 15 made a smart kick from the area 17 meters from the goalposts at around the 30th minute of the second half, scoring another goal.
The April 25 Team, however, was not disappointed but countered its rival’s attacks through nimble and fast passes and two and three men combination, equalizing the score in the referee’s time.
The two teams played an extra time game as they drew 2:2.
There were many chances of scoring goals but no team succeeded in doing so. So there were eleven meter penalty kicks. Five players from each team participated in the penalty kick but none of them proved to be winner. The continued penalty kick ended in 8:7 in favor of the Sonbong Team.
At the end of the game the spectators applauded the players of both teams for their on-field performance. Kim Jong Un acknowledged the applause directed at him from the spectators, players and coached. After the game, Kim Jong Un members and coaches of the Sonbong Team were invited to the platform where Kim Jong Un sat and posed for commemorative photographs. According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “congratulated them on their success.”
***Note that Col. Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Ri Yo’ng-kil) is listed in the same place as Chief of the KPA General Staff Kim Kyok Sik. DPRK state media does mess around with the order in which senior DPRK officials’ names are called or named in its news accounts so Col. Gen. Ri’s name in the hierarchy may be a one-off event; however there is a possibility Col. Gen. Ri has replaced Gen. Kim.