If you know anything about football in North Korea, you will have heard of April 25th Soccer Club, who are the leading football club in North Korea.
They were originally founded in 1949 as the catchily titled Central Sports Training School Sports Club (중앙체육강습소체육단, Chung’ang ch’eyukkangsŭpso ch’eyukdan). This reminds us of the famous “They’ll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions Tonight.”
In 1972 the club adopted its current name of April 25th Sports Club (Korean: 4.25체육단, Sa i o ch’eyuktan), or 4.25 SC for short.
Why April 25th?
This is a fascinating question! The club is affiliated with the ministry of defence, and all professional players at the club are considered officers in the army. Now the Korean Peoples Army (KPA) was founded on February 8th, but the precursor, the Korean Peoples Revolutionary Army, has founded on April 25th 1932. This has meant lots of back and frothing in the country about when Military Foundation Day actually is. In essence, they commemorate it twice, and there is even a (rival) football club called February 8th
Do they have any rivalries?
Yes, they have a few, one of which is with February 8th, who also are run by the army. The other is with Amnokgang, who are run by the Ministry of Peoples Security! All a little James Bondesque, but on the football field!
Are April 25th any good?
Any good? They are the best football team in North Korea, well most successful anyway winning 19 DPRK Premier League Championships, 7 Mangyongdae Prizes, and a host of other domestic prizes.
They are also the most successful continental team in North Korean history, having made history in 2019 by becoming the first North Korean side to reach a continental final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Al-Ahed of Lebanon. The AFC Cup is kind of like the Europa League, but still fairly impressive stuff.
We were such big fans of this; we even ran a tour to watch them en-route to the final.
Tourism, and indeed football, might be on a bit of a hiatus right now, but it will be back, as will YPT running tours to watch the mighty April 25th take on Asia!.