Football in North and South Korea c.1910-2002: Diffusion and Development
Politics has been an integral part of Korean football since the Japanese colonial era when the game became a vehicle for the Korean independence movement. The split between North and South Korea following the Korean War further accentuated the intrusion of politics into the domain of Korean football. As Koreans residing on either side of the border followed the game with intense interest and often regarded performance in international competition as a signifier of national prestige, the governments of both North and South Korea attached more importance to football than to any other sport and became its foremost patrons. In these circumstances it is not surprising to find that the relative performance of the national teams of North and South Korea mirrored changing economic and political conditions. Thus the rapid rise of North Korean football in the 1960s was a reflection of the state’s systematic and successful postwar reconstruction. Since the 1980s, however, South Korea, with its booming economy, has clearly surpassed its increasingly impoverished northern counterparts in the football field. Undoubtedly, the most two important events pertaining to the development of Korean football were the 1966 and 2002 World Cups. They provided occasions when nationalist sentiment could be expressed through football in both North and South Korea. They also provided opportunities for Korean footballers, through their achievements on the field, to show that the gap between the traditional periphery and core of world football was narrowing. At the same time, participation in competition at this level, whether by teams from North or South Korea, suggested that there was a recognizable and distinctive Korean football style nurtured in training camps where the emphasis was on producing players with sufficient stamina to run at their opponents for ninety minutes. Tireless running football has been the characteristic of successful teams from both North and South Korea. Thus, while recognizing the profound ideological differences that separate North and South Korea, this thesis also emphasizes the football tradition and culture that ethnically homogenous Koreans have in common.
- PhD