Young Pioneer Tours

Meeting the North Korean football team

That time I met the North Korean National Team

I’ve written a lot about the North Korean national team, as I am more than a tad bit obsessed with them, but my obsession can at least be explained, as I once met the DPRK national team on the train!

The Kings Cup is a (usually) annual football competition hosted by the Thailand FA, and as such, always includes Thailand. It is essentially a friendly tournament, although for Thailand, at least it is taken seriously, and is a way for the team to play top-class competition. North Korea has not only entered the cup on many occasions, but actually won it in 1986, and 1987. In 2009 they also entered the competition!

At this stage YPT was little more than a glint in my eye, having only been founded one year before, and I found myself on the train from Beijing to Pyongyang, where there was a whole group of fit-looking chaps, and a few old guys, like the coach, and a few doctors.

There are a couple of international languages, namely football and beer, and it was through this that I ended up having one of the more memorable train journeys into North Korea!

Now, while they were representing the DPRK national team, the squad was actually made up entirely of players from Sobaeksu, who at the time were the reigning national football champions of the DPRK. Sadly this success did not translate to the international stage, and they finished in last place after losing 1-0 to nightly Lebanon. Ironically April 25th SC were to lose by the same scoreline in the 2019 AFC Cup Final.

It was meeting these players that turned me into a Sobaeksu supporter after they agreed to all be Arsenal fans. I do sincerely hope they kept their promise…..

There are a lot of happy memories from this journey, most I will keep to myself, but the sight of seeing the coach tell off the 3rd choice keeper as he smoked and drank was pretty amusing. He did not seem at all bothered, and he’d just had an excellent holiday in Thailand to be fair……

We run a number of football tours throughout the year, come and join us!

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